Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Ian Grimble and Richard Matthews at 2KHz at Church Studios in Crouch End, London
Oddly enough, it's at times when the heart feels like a crater, like the scene of a booby trap, that a person feels most vital, most alive. It's when you've been blasted apart, decimated into a big fleshy pile of inconsequence that you begin to recover key elements that would suggest that you're not finished off just yet, that you might actually have some things going for you. It's as if a wire brush has been taken to all exposed skin and been rubbed over it, causing a new rawness that perks everything up, quick and red. You're suddenly there and not adrift in some kind of la-la land of faux importance or relevance. You're stuck dealing with the real shit that you have happening right in front of you instead of worrying about what you're going to post on your wall or tweet about later, not to mention what your friends are posting on their walls and tweeting, all in an unbelievably pointless blurring. It's just like those moments when someone nearly drowns or chokes to death, or narrowly escapes a car accident, when the realization that they were just seconds away from something permanent and final hits them. Oh, sure, they go back to being careless with their time in a matter of a week, but for a while there, they've never put more importance on smelling the flowers and finding new ways to count themselves fortunate.
The stories that Johnny Flynn tells in his songs are the epitome of what it is to take yourself to the point of craziness, thinking that you might wind up with a nice little package, with a tight and tidy little bow on top. There's nothing but an overwhelming amount of messiness in the lives that play out in his songs and that messiness often serves a double-life as the exact sort of wonder that you don't know you'd like, but you're happy it's there. It's never perfect and that's kind of the point. If it were, then it would all just be too hum-drum and predictable and nobody really wants any of that.
He sings about reeling in the shared experience of being alive, at the beginning of the song, "After Elliot" and then follows the sentiment with something that happens regularly, almost as if by clockwork - having some tea. It's the amazing, or the awe-inspiring, entangled with something like tying your shoes or taking the dog out for a walk. There's no mistaking that there always tends to be something exquisite in the mundane and something heart-rending in such simple toil. Flynn sings, "You know life isn't always like the end of your novels/All things might wind up, but they always unravel/And I'll watch you with eyes that can see, I can see/That you're too good at pulling that wool over me/And I'll fight but there's nothing here I find to resist/And the wind started up and that lady is risen," on the song, "The Lady Is Risen," and it seems apparent that there's something like a winner there, but for how long? Like he says, we'd all just be waiting for that grand unraveling that we're all expecting, for that boulder to roll right back down the hill, gaining serious speed as it goes. We'll watch it come to a stop and then probably start pushing it back up, maybe even enjoying the scenery a second time. Sounds like something we'd do.