Been Listening: Johnny Flynn & the Sussex Wit

Been Listening by Johnny Flynn on Figmentby Carys

Recommended if you like: Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling, Noah and the Whale

Keeping with the trend of folk-music-gone-indie, Johnny Flynn has hit the mark, releasing ‘Been Listening’; a perfect blend of modern sound and bluegrass roots. The album as a whole is like watching Johnny as he travels around the world, struggling to find himself and his style, experimenting as he goes. The result? An album with a plethora of sounds, put together like a jigsaw that shouldn’t fit, but somehow does.

The opening piece, ‘Kentucky Pill’, leaves the listener expecting an upbeat album with excessive use of brass instruments, and while the second song is not a joyous one, ‘Churlish May’, the third, continues the use of trumpets. Although each of these first few songs has its merits, it’s not until ‘Barnacled Warship’ that the album really picks up.

What follows is a collection of songs each with a distinctive beauty. In ‘Barnacled Warship’, it’s the hope that pushes through the dark beginning. In ‘Sweet William (Part 2)’, it’s the heavy use of folk, leaving the listener breathless, lost in the quick pace. In ‘The Water’, it’s the sheer loveliness of the two singers; Laura Marling’s voice weaving intricately around Flynn’s. And in ‘Howl’, it’s the punchy, beat-filled growl that moans soulfully around the instruments.

While the next two songs are slow and tend to drag, the final song, ‘The Prizefighter and the Heiress’ sums up what Flynn’s album is really about. With a contemplative beginning that turns into a quick, folky melody, the line ‘end of the fight, end of the struggles’ tells the listener that Flynn has found his destination. On a journey that crosses various styles, ‘The Prizefighter’ is a conclusion that stuns the listener into silence.


Carys is from New Zealand. Yeah, that country down the bottom of the world with Pineapple Lumps and sheep. It’s not attached to Australia, in case you were wondering. She loves reading and writing, like any typical Figgy, and spends most of her time attending lectures, listening to music, hanging out with her friends, and singing in the shower. Oh, and her favorite food is Nutella.

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