A Larum: High-Spirited Energy & Playful Wordplay
Associated Press: A 25-year-old acoustic busker from England, Johnny Flynn foreshadows his intent with the odd title of his debut album, "A Larum," copped from an obscure 1602 play, "A Larum For London." An accomplished Shakespearean stage actor, Flynn brings a literary bent to his lyrics and a traditional English folk foundation to his sound.
But the charming singer-songwriter also bears a populist's heart, and his songs have a Dickensian tone that dispels materialism in favor of focusing on communal joy and shared ideals. Acoustic based, most of his songs carry a high-spirited energy and a playful sense of wordplay. His arrangements are reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen's "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" in the punchy way they add life to non-amplified music, but his lyrics and instrumentation own an old English sensibility similar to that of Ray Davies at their most pastoral.
Although steeped in folk music, there's nothing old-fashioned about Flynn's music. His catchiest tunes — "Tickle Me Pink,""Leftovers,""The Box" — feature a fresh point of view all his own. He's not as wholly formed yet with ballads — the American-styled "Brown Trout Blues" works better than the somber "Hong Kong Cemetry." But Flynn's humanity and unpretentious intelligence gives his music a rare and compelling appeal.
CHECK THIS OUT: "Tunnels" strips the sound down to Flynn's voice and unusually driving guitar style, showing how musical and uplifting his songs can be even at their most elemental.