Johnny Irion - Ex Tempore (Out 8/7)

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Johnny Irion - Ex Tempore (Out 8/7)

Postby deaeterna » Fri Jul 20, 2007 8:13 pm


“As I listen to the new album by Johnny Irion I say, “Boy, you better get to work ‘cause this guy is kicking you in the behind!” Ambitious is the word that comes to mind. Genre –bending material with mind-blowing arrangements that twist and turn into unexpected musical alleyways … but never a dead end. A must-have for lovers of pop, roots and all-around great music. Count me a fan for life” – Gary Louris (The Jayhawks)

Some records are made out of obligation; others are motivated by sheer desire. Ex Tempore (Rte. Eight/RCAM, Aug. 7, 2007, the new album from writer/artist Johnny Irion, falls into the latter category. Half of the duo Sarah Lee and Johnny with wife Sarah Lee Guthrie, Irion conceived the album during a fertile writing stint in summer 2006 at the Guthrie compound in rural Massachusetts. As the title implies, this is an album made with a sense of spontaneity – a pace that undoubtedly contributed to the immediacy of this song cycle, a varied yet cohesive collection intermingling piano balladry, Americana, chamber pop and folk-style fingerpicking with a sophisticated ear for arrangements.

Irion brought together musicians/friends from throughout his career, people who he knew would have a feel for the songs and be able to jump in and intuitively get it right: engineer/co-producer Ryan Pickett (longtime live soundman for My Morning Jacket), Tift Merritt and her rhythm section of Zeke Hutchins and Jay Brown, and Greg Readling and John Teer of Chatham County Line. Additionally, bassist Bryan Howard and drummer Dave Johnson (aka Athens, GA duo Corner Pockets), who toured with Johnny and Sarah Lee behind their 2004 album Exploration, played on two of the tracks.

While Irion’s high lilt occasionally recalls Neil Young, the songs are inspired by the canon of rock/cosmic American music of the late ’60s/early ‘70s. Add to that an appreciation of classic pop songwriting – Irion can craft an instantly memorable chorus and knows how to build a narrative – and you’ve got an album that’s timeless and true.

Ex Tempore resonates with all the highway miles, stages and life lessons that make up the journey of a career musician. Add being a family man to that – their daughter Olivia, now 5, joined them on the road as a newborn – and you’ve got an album that celebrates the everyday in a way that’s instantly identifiable and immediately engaging. Irion has proved that he’s in this line of work for the long haul – expect to be hearing from him for many years to come.
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