Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion's debut album is much more than the sum of its parts, though the parts are pretty great.
Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion's debut album is much more than the sum of its parts, though the parts are pretty great. Sarah Lee, Arlo's daughter and Woody's granddaughter, sings with an effortless beauty on a stack of originals and one cover, "Dr. King," a tribute to the might and methods of the civil rights leader that is the rockingest version of a Pete Seeger song you will hear. There are pure, plaintive country songs ("In Lieu of Flowers") and dynamic rockers that examine the challenges of love during wartime ("Cease Fire"). Additionally, in keeping with the family tradition is a sleeves-rolled-up protest song, "Gervais." These diligently crafted songs, given buoyancy and bite by the co-production of the Jayhawks' Gary Louris, convey the couple's convictions with intensity, optimism and musical dazzle we haven't heard since the blessed '60s. There is something here for any adult-leaning, twang-liking format—not to mention Air America.—WR