Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion Set Good ‘Examples’
The husband-wife duo released their latest album, ‘Bright Examples,’ February 22 and the sound takes them far afield of the folk sound made famous by Sarah Lee’s grandfather, Woody Guthrie, and her father, Arlo. Johnny wrote nine of the 12 songs on the release, with Sarah Lee penning two, and the last a result of a collaboration. Although, the songs flow as if created by one writer.
“We have been waiting to record this album for a very long time,” Sarah Lee tells The Boot, adding that both she and Johnny sprang from rock backgrounds. “This is a great path for us. It’s very exciting to discover where we’ll go from here.”
Although the duo originally approached U2‘s the Edge to produce the album, schedule conflicts made the pairing impossible. Call it karma, but Johnny says that was perhaps for the best. Producers Andy Cabic of Vetiver and Thom Monahan, known for his work with Vetiver, Devendra Banhart and the Black Crowes‘ Chris Robinson (who first introduced Sarah Lee and Johnny) were the ideal choice, Johnny says.
While in the studio, Johnny, former front man of Queen Sarah Saturday, and Sarah Lee like to polish and tweak their songs. When a producer is also a player, as is the case with Andy and Thom, the outcome is richer due to their enhanced musical sensibilities.
The duo also called on guest artists including Gary Louris and Mark Olson of the Jayhawks. “[The Jayhawks] were the epitome of VH1 in 1994,” says Johnny of his admiration of the Jayhawks’ sound, especially their acoustic harmonies. “They brought back acoustic harmonies that people tend to not know until they hear them and say ‘Wow.’ They have an amazing harmonic structure.”
The bottom line is that the record is just what they wanted to deliver. “The end result is just better,” says Johnny of carefully choosing those that worked on the album. “It’s all about creating a team of players to create a great album.”
Sarah Lee and Johnny are on tour. Their next scheduled concert is February 24 in Santa Barbara, Calif. For more concert news, check here.