Sliced Bread Records
A review written for the Folk and Music Exchange
A philosopher with a guitar is the best way to describe Philadelphia based singer/songwriter John Flynn and his latest self-titled CD. Flynn weaves down-to-earth stories about people, relationships, and unexplained mysteries of life that suit his smooth vocals and guitar style to a "T."
Several tunes struck me the first time I heard the material from this CD, which ironically was not by listening to the CD, but rather catching a live interview/performance of Flynn's on The World Café. Who's Whose is a most telling song about how we live our lives in this day and age. His lyrics challenge us with the poignant question of today's rat race "do you own the stuff you own or does the stuff you own own you?" It's easy to understand why, in the liner notes for this song, it states "owed to Henry David Thoreau." During his World Café interview, Flynn explained how he was searching for the right words to express how he felt about a relationship, and found those words through Emily Dickinson's writings. Emily is a very heartfelt song about this experience, containing strong emotions to which Dar Williams contributes an almost haunting backing vocal. I got a real kick out of Origami Roses. It is a song about determinism (Destiny Jane) and free will (Free Will Tommy) meeting at a bar and having a drink as they discuss their philosophies. Dave Richards' upright bass provides a cool groove to this clever song.
I never was a fan of the Cheap Trick hit I Want You To Want Me, but I can't get Flynn's version, with its country flair and Jane Kelly Williams' backing vocals, out of my head. Flynn successfully tackles the difficult topics of feeling helpless while watching a loved one suffer in When the Angels Aren't There, and living with an unhealthy self-image in Thin Air.
Flynn's new CD will not hit you over the head when you listen to it, but it will satisfy a craving for finely crafted lyrics with a refreshing point of view wrapped in some fine musical arrangements.
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Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz (firstname.lastname@example.org)