Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion: Bright Examples

~ Thursday, 29 September 2011
The husband and wife duo of Irion and Guthrie seems to be as blissful a musical union as well as a personal one. Bright Examples could easily have been a self indulgent exercise but it is far from it. Both are outstanding artists in their own right and it could have been easy for Guthrie to trade on the family name made so legendary by Woody and Arlo but this is an album that will remove any silent whispers. Bright Examples has a well honed sound, and as strange as this may sound, that comes across like a meeting of Neil Young and The Carpenters.

The duo have not been short of some famous friends to call upon in the making of this album. The Jayhawks Gary Louris and Mark Olson pop up along with the irrepressible Radoslav Lorkovic. There is an organic feel to this record with the production adding a wide and lush aspect to its overall sound. The album opens with the downbeat and beguiling Ahead Of Myself with Irion's falsetto voice sounding fantastic. Never Far From My Heart teases you in with its wonderful dual vocal intro and unfold into a classic slice of Americana before the 60's inspired Speed Of Light transports you to a summers day in San Fransisco with Jerry Garcia caressing your ears.

A real stand out is the shimmering First Snow, co-written with Gary Louris, where the ghost of Gram Parsons hangs on every note. This is music that seems to emanate from the past. There can be no doubt that their influences come from 60's and 70's as the winsome folk of Cry Quieter and the sheer towering majesty of the title track Bright Examples confirms.

As fantastic an album this is, the pair do mis-fire on the twee Dupont Circle but we can forgive them this blip as the other eleven tracks prove a breath of fresh air. This is a wonderfully written, played and produced record that doesn't disappoint given the expectations the duo come with. A true gem.

[][][][][ (4.5/5)