Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home

John Flynn


Review by Gary Hill

There was a time when folk based rock ruled the airwaves. One thing that was pretty true about all of that music was that the songs conveyed a message that was more important than sex or drugs. John Flynn’s sound calls back to those days. He combines elements of the best folk of the 1970’s with country and other textures and does it all with a solid conviction to presenting ideas he feels are important. Whether you agree with what he has to say or not you have to give him credit for speaking his mind (and for doing it as eloquently as he does). This disc is a thought provoking one, but more importantly it’s one you can sit back and enjoy (even without addressing the lyrical content.) Among the guests Flynn recruited to help him with this endeavors is Kris Kristofferson. Certainly his presence here lends an air of authenticity to that ’70’s folk/country atmosphere. The truth is, though, Flynn doesn’t need that. He has all the credibility he needs built into his songwriting and performance.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
The dramatic tone behind the acoustic folk sound of this track is purely wonderful. The vocal performance seems to fall somewhere in between Garth Brooks and Gordon Lightfoot. This track is beautiful both in terms of the lyrics and the music. I’ll leave it to Flynn’s words to tell you what “the dragon” is. It’s so hard to pick just one stanza or chorus. The truth is, whether you agree with Flynn or not, you have to admire the way he presents his views. Since it’s so difficult to choose I’ll use a few excerpts here. “…It walks with priceless treasure out democracy’s front door / It buys and sells the very ones that you and I vote for…” “Someone is dividing us by color and by creed / Making that much easier the task to cull and feed / Someone spins the lies that cause the weary ones to choose / Between the wounded planet and the jobs they fear to lose.” “The dragon knew it could no longer scare the human race / So it learned to smile and it learned the art of stealth / Corporate acquisition and deception plunder wealth / Much more cost effectively than fire, tooth or claw / When it becomes tedious you simply change the laws.”
She Moves Me
A pretty love song type track this one seems to combine progressive rock ballad sounds with Flynn’s folk. The result is a pretty and quite powerful number. It’s far less heavy in tone than the opener, making a nice change up.
Big Boat Comin’
A playful folk tone pervades this one. It’s not bad, but just doesn’t do a lot for me. Don’t get me wrong it’s catchy, and fans of late 60’s early 70’s folk should like this a lot. There is an interesting bridge that has some rather prog like tendencies and pulls the piece up in my book.
Minnie Lou
This has more of a rock and roll approach to it. There are also leanings toward reggae and country. This is a fun textured jam. The lyrics to this one address a modern day political situation where the US Attorney General decided that a statue of Lady Justice was improper because one of its breasts was bared.
AmBush (The Death of the Myth)
This one comes in much slower and laid back, feeling at first like a cowboy around the campfire song. As it moves into the song proper this feels a bit more like the opener with a dramatic and powerful ballad approach taking the main focus of the music. As this moves forward it becomes even more potent. It’s another of the standouts on the disc. 
Hey Vincente
A front porch blues approach brings this one in, then it shifts to something more akin to early Bob Dylan. This is a balladic folk piece. The vocals have a bit of a country twang to them.
Angel Dawson
In a nice change up a wailing horn brings this one in. The cut has a minimalist acoustic rocking approach. This is another musical highlight of the disc and shows yet another facet to Flynn’s talent. It gets more full in terms of arrangement as it carries forward, but reminds me a bit of the more rocking segment of Cat Stevens’ output. I like this one a lot. As electric guitar enters later this one really comes into its own and leaves no doubt that it’s one of the best cuts on the album. The lyrics address the plight of the crime plagued inner cities.
Hope Sleeps
This is another in a folky, rather country-like ballad approach. It intensifies as it carries on. It’s pretty and somewhat melancholy. It also serves as a good change of pace from the last powerhouse. It gets quite lush in its arrangement and at times reminds me a bit of some of the arrangements that Arlo Guthrie used to put together at the height of his popularity. Flynn’s voice, though, is nothing like Guthrie’s. Much of this song is centered around the story of Anne Frank, but the theme of “Hope sleeps / But not forever” is timeless.
Full Circle
A tentative introduction leads to a more rocking sort of jam that has elements of country music. Those Guthrie type sounds again show up here as does the Garth Brooks leanings. This one powers up with added instrumentation and layers of music. This one starts off a bit slowly, but turns into one of the most powerful cuts on show here. This one is a real smoker and packed with emotion. It could be argued that the vocal performance on this track is the strongest of the whole CD. Some of the guitar work that serves as the icing on the cake is among the tastiest, that much is even more certain. This is a story about a death row inmate and the basic theme is that while he deserves to die, society does not deserve to kill.
Not With My Jesus
A mellow and rather pretty acoustic guitar approach starts this one off in a nice contrast to the last number. This balladic cut has both folk and country textures. It’s not my favorite track musically, but its lyrics make up for it. Those lyrics talk about people using religion (and it addresses both Christianity and Islam) to put forth their own agenda rather than the message of the faith.
This one is based on percussion (feeling rather Native American) with otherwise unaccompanied vocals for the first segments of the track. After a time other instruments enter to ramp up the arrangement. This one has a gospel sort of texture to it. It’s another that doesn’t do much for me musically. In fact, if I were hard pressed to pick a loser on the disc, this would be the one for me. That said, it does pull together into a more potent arrangement as it carries on.
Only One
Flynn closes the disc with another dramatic, but rather mellow acoustic ballad folk cut. It may be rather understated, but it serves as a satisfying conclusion to the disc.
Return to the
John Flynn Artist Page
Artists Directory

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./