Saturday, November 21, 2009

Noughties By Nature #82: Johnny Flynn – The Wrote And The Writ

There’s an awful lot that’s been said about music and poetry, and their relation to each other. So many have said Bob Dylan’s more poet than singer, and even my mum says Eminem’s an ‘urban poet’, but the line seems so thin between the two it’s difficult to see which is which. Where does musical poetry end and pure music begin? I’d say the real distinction lies in how you think about a song after it’s finished – if you’re humming the tune, it’s music, if you’re ruminating on what’s been said to you, that’s true poetry.

In that regard, The Wrote And The Writ more than qualifies as poetry. An ambiguous tale about religion, priesthood and possibly love, it leaves you reeling at the sheer beauty of the words and what it could all mean. The rest of the band take a step back on this track, using just violin and muffled drums as background noise, whilst even Johnny’s strident dobro guitar takes on a more leisurely role, letting the words do their bit. That’s not to say the music isn’t important though, the sparse, slowly intertwining instruments carry Johnny’s deep velvety vocals along perfectly and, more importantly, beautifully.

That’s what this song is ultimately, truly beautiful. Every aspect cries out as if there’s some hidden message behind it that you’re not quite seeing, and that seems exactly the point. This seems the purest distillation, and most wonderful endorsement of musical poetry, and Johnny Flynn knows this - as the music winds down he lets his final line ring out, "Don’t say in a letter what you can’t in my ear".
Joe Skrebels

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[Album: A Larum]

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