Monday, April 6, 2009
I heard about this cd this summer while listening to NPR (where I hear about most things). I ended up buying it on itunes, after listening to this interview with musician, Johnny Flynn. I was especially charmed during a segment in the radio interview when the journalist asked about his journal and ask him to read a bit from it. He shared some thoughts, written in verse, apparently composed on the bus on the way over to the radio station.
This use of traditional verse to explore contemporary themes is part of what I find most interesting in the songs. The use of old-folky instruments like banjo, fiddle, accordion, and guitar create pretty simple music that I think contrasts well with the words which apparently originated as poetry that Flynn wrote and then decided to set to music -- though I don't think they really come from any kind of first hand experience. Rather, they seem to be ruminations on old stories -- like Shore to Shore which seems to be about a bus crash in London, or Hong Kong Cemetary which I think is about visiting the place where his grandfather is buried in Hong Kong. I can't explain why, but I feel like the songs pull off the slightly melancholic tone and uses of words such as "flotsom" and "ne'er." The title comes a stage direction found in Shakespeare's plays -- reflecting Flynn's background acting in a Shakesperean theatre troupe -- and means, noise or commotion.