Transgressive Records Ltd.
Johnny Flynn may well be an unknown quality in the US, but in the UK, he’s both an actor as well as a songwriter, who is releasing his fourth album Sillion. Along with his band, The Sussex Wit, his newest continues his eclectic take on English folk music that started with his first release, A Larum in 2008.
Did I say eclectic? Check out the instrumentation contained on Sillion – cello, xylophone, trumpet, mandola and “the Finger” – all of which combines with more traditional guitars, pianos and drums to create 11 tracks of musical experimentation that is only rarely heard on mainstream American music. Take the opener, “Raising the Dead”. Led by a funeral tattoo, it sounds like a proper anthem to be sung at a wake, drunkenly. “Wandering Aengus” follows, with its string section reminding you of early Jethro Tull-ish prog. “Barleycorn” is prime ’70s English folk, akin to Fairport Convention or Traffic. Middle Eastern touches add depth to “The Night My Piano Upped and Died”, one expects a whirling dervish to break out.
But it doesn’t necessary take odd instruments for him to succeed, such as on the more subdued “Jefferson’s Torch”, with Flynn sounding a bit like Richard Thompson over washes of electric guitar, or the moody “Hard Road” that closes the record. Johnny Flynn might not be a star in America, but Sillion rather definitively makes the case that he should be.