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CD Review: johnny irion

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The Deal: Folkie gets high on pop.

The Good: Like Neil Young, Johnny Irion isn't afraid to attack a note. The struggle, while not always tuneful, is usually interesting. Irion's plaintive, preteen-sounding vocals are made more melodic by Tift Merrit's ace rhythm section of bassist Jay Brown and Zeke Hutchins. The irony is Irion has a pleasant singing voice when he drops down an octave, like on "Brush Your Teeth Blues." "Short Leash" would have been better in a lower register, but it's saved by wife Sarah Lee's gorgeous backing vocals. Irion is most palatable on the harder rockin' tunes like "Madrid."

The Bad: Still it's tough to get through some cuts. Irion's vocals on "She Cast Fire" are so shaky and thin, it's painful to listen to.

The Verdict: It's for fans -- they'll enjoy watching Irion stretching out a bit from his folky role in Sarah Lee And Johnny, Sarah Lee being Woody's granddaughter and Arlo's child.

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