(Rte 8 Records)
The very first thought that ran through my mind the first time I played the new Johnny Irion CD was, “This guy reminds me of Neil Young.” Now let me be very clear, that is a good thing in my book. I had honestly never heard him in a solo capacity up until this point. (Although he did release a debut solo project in 2003) I knew he works with his wife (and Arlo’s daughter) Sarah Lee Guthrie, who puts in a few appearances on this album as well.
Anyway, I am now a fan. Johnny’s songwriting and singing are both top drawer, and all eleven tunes included are good, especially “Short Leash” with Sarah Lee’s backing vocal soaring high overhead, and the beauty of “Eyes Like a Levee.” Also very special is the song he wrote for his baby daughter, "Brush Yr Teeth Blues." Very nice.
The musicians on the album are some of the best anywhere, including co-producer Ryan Pickett (My Morning Jacket), Tift Merrit’s rhythm section, including Zeke Hutchins, Jay Brown as well as members of Chatham County Line, along with Athens, Georgia’s Corner Pockets (Bryan Hoard and Dave Johnston).
Irion’s music recalls the music of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, with a Gram Parsons songwriting vibe wrapped around a vocal that is, as I said earlier, very reminiscent of Neil Young. A joyful, nostalgic sounding record that begs to be enjoyed time and time again.
-Michael Buffalo Smith