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John Flynn

Two Wolves

Review by Gary Hill

John Flynn’s latest release sees him stretching out a bit. Mind you the majority of the disc is focused on his typical folk/country basis, but he opens it with a jazz ballad piece and finds other chances to move the boundaries of his music in new directions. Once again Kris Kristofferson joins him on several tracks. Kathy Mattea also shows up this time around. Flynn’s lyric writing is on a par with any of the folk greats of by gone eras, and I really enjoy his music, too. Whether you agree with his convictions or not you have to appreciate the passion with which he expresses them.

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

Track by Track Review
Two Wolves
In a change of pace from his Dragon album, this cut starts of with a definite mellow jazz texture. It’s a killer jam that works quite well. Flynn’s voice still adds a touch of the folk/country texture, but overall this feels like a jazz ballad. I like this one a lot and it’s a killer opener. This also includes some very tasty harmonica soloing. This song is about choosing between the two sides of your personality – the dark and the light. Yin and Yang is such a universal theme.
There’s No Them There (Nomoreu’s Anthem)
We’re back to the sounds that are more familiar Flynn territory here. This has a down home country tone to it. It’s playful, bouncy and fun. The lyrical theme of unity is a refreshingly positive one.
A more tentative tone begins this one. It’s got more of a folk ballad style to it. This one has a great evocative texture. The song pays tribute to a number of soldiers who have fallen in duty in Iraq.
My Father's Chapel
Starting with just the voice, this is a more old school country/folk ballad. It’s another song that is about inclusion. The arrangement powers up a bit as it carries on, but the overall tone remains the same.
An almost classical approach makes up the sound of this cut. It’s an interesting one in that it has both an air of the melancholy and of the hopeful. It’s pretty and a nice change of pace. I’d have to mark this one as one of my favorites on the disc.
Put Your Freedom Where Your Mouth Is
As one might guess by the title, this song is about living up to the claims we make of supporting freedom. It points out many contradictions in our collective approach to this concept. It’s a ballad with both country and folk elements to its song structure. This is thought provoking and powerful stuff.
This one is a tale of one child who is what the military would call “collateral damage.” It’s another exceptionally powerful cut, if even just in the lyrical department. The musical treatment is a balladic one. This piece is sad, as it should be. If that’s what it takes to make us consider all aspects of what is being done in our names, then so be it.
No More War
A military drumbeat leads this one off. It’s a pretty folk ballad type of track. The lyrical theme is obvious just from reading the title. This is not one of my favorites on show here as it’s a bit too generic. Still the multilayered vocals in the later segments are nice. Some of the instrumentation when the arrangement gets more full has some charm, too.
Pleasures of the Harbor
This has more of a Gordon Lightfoot sort of ballad approach to its sound. I like the nautical theme to this Phil Ochs penned tune. I also enjoy the arrangement with the strings and backing vocals used to good effect. Still, I’d say this is not as strong as some of Flynn’s originals.
This one comes in with a very sedate ballad approach. Flynn’s take on this piece is a solid folk piece. The arrangement gets a bit more full as it carries on, but overall this is a classic Flynn tune – folk music with a strong country leaning.
Hall of Angels
This time Flynn takes on a song penned by Kristofferson (who provides backing vocals). It’s a pretty and poignant ballad. As one might guess it includes a healthy dosage of country sounds.
Trust The Rope
This is another fairly typical Flynn cut, but also a good solid conclusion to the disc.
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