Johnny Irion – Extempore


On this new album, Johnny Irion unleashes an amazing blend of folk and country with lush pop/rock sounds that mix Neil Young with the Beatles and a million sounds in-between. The lyrics are wonderful, each song has a quirkiness that makes it stick in your craw, and the changes are inspired.

The crying steel guitar and Beatle-esque vocals of the opening cut, “Take Care,” define the approach, but don’t do it justice. Like most songs here, it’s atmospheric and wonderful. It’s like “Short Leash,” which follows; how do you describe a song that mixes country, folk, and soul music? Offbeat changes and a fine backing vocal from Sarah Lee are bonuses.

Every cut has something. The dreamy “Always Lookin’ Out” is driven by keyboard and has a feel that makes you wish everyone could do it like this. The very poppish “Good Cry” has an amazing set of lyrics that could be interpreted in several ways, but ultimately is about chopping onions! But, it goes a lot deeper.

Irion plays a lot of acoustic and solos on electric on the rocking “Madrid” and “Fragile Humans” and, as on every track, his playing is excellent and full of surprises. And his high, soft voice alternates between pop heaven and a country singer who had one too many drinks.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Sep ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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