Label: Transgressive Release Date: 07/06/2010 Link: Official Site Another one of our leading folk pop musicians has released a new record this week. For some this is a wonderful thing, given the amount of people in the same category as Johnny Flynn who are flourishing and making such great music. For others, perhaps more so, it may be a reason to let out a bored sigh and curse Mumford and Sons or Laura Marling. True, these artists are all falling into a similar group, making traditional folk a bit more samey by adding some popular backing instruments and rhythms, like upbeat brass (which in Flynn's case seems to, at one point, make his music verge on a questionable reggae route). What makes me want to defend this album however, and try to argue that there's no reason to consider Been Listening less special than the supposedly more creative musicians out there, is that Flynn sticks to a fundamental appeal of folk music, which I've repeated to the point of exhaustion whenever reviewing music of a similar genre; he tells stories that take you away from your current mental state, conjuring picturesque ballad-like worlds from different times. 'Barnacled Warship' for instance, is a tale about leaving home for war. The way Flynn tells it, accompanied by the marching rhythm of the domineering cello, with the dancing fiddle on top, paints a specific picture of one man's adventure. Following on, the album reaches a far more traditional level. 'Sweet William Part 2' has pagan connotations and instrumentation that draws us to ideas of old villages, moors and woodlands. Even better, we then encounter Miss Marling herself as a guest singer on 'The Water'. It now certainly seems right, hearing these two singers duet, that they should be associated so much with each other. Their voices really do go beautifully together and it will be nice to hopefully see them cross paths at Green Man Festival this year. Flynn really can't do better than the three consecutive songs that I've just described. They sit right in the middle of the album as the core brilliance, with what could be called the more generic songs winding up to and down from them. This isn't to say that the other songs are bad; the opener, 'Kentucky Pill', has an arrangement that can win you over on the first listen and 'Amazon Love' has a wonderfully heavy, pounding piano track, complementing another great vocal display. But the middle three songs are the reason why any of us who enjoyed A Larum so much will give Been Listening many deserving chances. Photobucket