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Unity Lodge

Johnny Irion

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Album Review

Coming from two distinguished literary and musical legacies has made a deep impact upon Johnny Irion and his musical methods. Wide-open spaces, solitude, and traveling are instant impressions from the first harmonica chords and simple acoustic guitar strumming on "Stationary Woman" and "Pilot Light," the album's bookends. With help from wife and backing vocalist Sarah Lee Guthrie, songs such as "DC Niner" resound more than the subsequent "Think Tank," despite the best of intentions with pedal steel dotting the song. The obvious influences of Neil Young's Harvest period and Gram Parsons litter the ten songs, but not so much as to diminish the performer's own talents. "Thirty Inch Coal" is the highlight, a slow, gentle harmony singalong about mining. "Frontage Road" and "Poker Face" are up-tempo, but seem a bit shallow in light of the strength of the rest.

Biography

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

There's no mistaking Johnny Irion's unique pedigree — his granduncle is literary giant John Steinbeck and his father-in-law is folksinger Arlo Guthrie — but the South Carolina native gained a following on the strength of his own music, fronting several bands as a teenager before morphing into a country-folk artist as an adult. In 1993, at the tender age of 15, he formed Queen Sarah Saturday, a melodic band whose music predated the poppy, twangy, psychedelic Southern rock of future groups...
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