February 22nd, 2011 | Album reviews

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion “Never Too Far From My Heart”
(from Bright Examples out now)

Having a famous last name in the music biz can be a blessing or a curse. More often than not, the forbearer often outclasses the younger by a large margin, which can often put a stench on the family name: think Mick and Chris Jagger, or Jose and Ozzie Canseco. However, the one family that manages to sidestep this stereotype is the Guthrie clan.

Her grandfather is the legendary American folksinger Woody and her pops, Arlo, is the purveyor of “Alice’s Restaurant,” so needless to say, Sarah Lee Guthrie had to step up her game. Fortunately for all, she makes life easy and brings her A-plus game on her latest album, Bright Examples.  Collaborating once again with husband, Johnny Irion, the album has moments where you feel like you are listening to the harmonies of Johnny Cash and June Carter. Guthrie and Irion have a natural chemistry that goes beyond the typical husband-wife duo and it makes for an excellent listen.

On this album, Guthrie and Irion have added electric instruments to their sound that weren’t prevalent on their first record. Perhaps this is due to the inclusion of new producers (Vetiver’s Andy Cabic and Thom Monahan), but it indisputably works. Tracks like “Hurry Up” and the harmony-rich “Seven Sisters” show how much the duo has evolved from their first effort. Great husband-wife tandems are hard to find these, especially ones with famous last names, but one Bright Examples, Guthrie and Irion do their best to use the past to create a promising bridge to the future.

—Daniel Kohn

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion Record Release show
Hotel Cafe
1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Showtime: 7:00pm
Tickets: $20
Ticket Info: