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Album Review

When your last name is Guthrie, people are going to have certain expectations about your music, but Sarah Lee Guthrie (Arlo's daughter) and her husband and musical collaborator, Johnny Irion, have managed to make an album that speaks to her personal heritage while possessing a strong aural personality of its own. Exploration is a collection of songs filled with the easy charm and home-truth honesty of postwar folk music, and even boasts a new tune by family friend Pete Seeger, as well as originals from Guthrie and Irion that confront war, poverty, and other social ills with a gentle but firm insistence. But Guthrie and Irion also display a stronger musical backbone than their semi-folkie ways might suggest; Exploration was produced by Gary Louris of the Jayhawks in collaboration with engineer Ed Ackerson, and Louris brought along several of his bandmates to play on the sessions, so it's no surprise that the album displays some of the twangy élan of Tomorrow the Green Grass or Sound of Lies. But it also has a playful campfire singalong quality that's obviously Guthrie and Irion's doing, without undercutting the potent if understated rock & roll energy of tunes like "Gervais" and "Gotta Prove." Exploration is a high-energy post-millennium hootenanny that adds some high-kicking fun to the passionate and playful folk-rock that's Guthrie and Irion's natural stock in trade; it's as homey and refreshing as iced tea on an August afternoon, and equally satisfying.

Customer Reviews

Something Special

I was really impressed by Exploration. Sarah Lee and Johnny have made something that holds up after many listens. This effort captures all that is good in a country sound and combines it with just plain wonderfulness. This is something that comes out in a live performance even more.


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Husband-and-wife folk-pop duo Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion both had creative family pedigrees and ongoing solo musical careers when they met in Los Angeles through a mutual friend, Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes. Guthrie was the daughter of Arlo Guthrie and the granddaughter of Woody Guthrie, while Irion came from a family of musicians and had an uncle, writer Thomas Steinbeck, who was the son of novelist John Steinbeck. Guthrie and Irion married in 1999 and first started performing together...
Full Bio
Exploration, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion
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Customer Ratings