Here's a duo you have probably never heard of -- Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion. The husband and wife team has just released their sophomore collaborative album. It's been almost six years since their stunning debut, Exploration -- back then it was one of my first gateway albums into the world of Americana music. And yes, Sarah Lee is the daughter of Arlo Guthrie, who is the son of Woody. If it weren't for the wonders of Amazon.com, I probably wouldn't have known about this new release.
This album is slightly different from their first one in that they take their Californian country/folk sound and explore it further with other musical styles. You can tell right away from the first song that they're headed in another direction. There's an almost dream-like psychedelic quality to Ahead Of Myself, and a soothing chorus line that surprises you. They also add a nice pop touch to Never Far From My Heart, somehow reminding me of Big Star's first album. And Speed Of Light has a great '60s rock vibe, with the distinctive drumming and the jangly guitars.
My current favorite is Target On Your Heart, an example of the perfect three and a half minute pop tune. I won't comment on the rest of the songs except to say they're simply great, in the good ol' fashion sense. For me the highlights are when Sarah and Johnny's harmonize together, influenced by the likes of The Everly Brothers and Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris. And while the singing is wonderful, you're not once distracted from the musicianship of the fine backing band; Cardinals guitarist and photographer Neal Casal also appears here. Living in an age where the world has gone to shit, I just feel that this kind of music is a godsend.
To read more about this album, click here.