The musician-actor and the writer follow their inspiring lockdown debut with another buoyant fusion of English folk and big themes
By Phil Mongredien
The sunny positivity of the first collaboration between singer-songwriter-actor Johnny Flynn and nature writer Robert Macfarlane, 2021’s Lost in the Cedar Wood, felt like a genuine bright spot amid the bleakness of the pandemic. The genesis of this follow-up was far more pleasant – some of the songs came into being during walks on the South Downs (most notably Song With No Name), rather than as a result of exchanged WhatsApp messages and voice memos during lockdown – but the elements that made that first record so enjoyable remain in place: uplifting and muscular English folk stylings, courtesy of Flynn, with ancient and modern themes interwoven in these co-written lyrics.
It’s a record of two distinct halves, either side of glorious, modern-day wassail song The Sun Also Rises. It opens in more upbeat style, despite weighty subject matter – burials, death rituals, AI – while the second half is quieter and more introspective, the pandemic-inspired Year-Long Winter evoking thaw and new growth emerging from the cold and dark. By turns celebratory and thought-provoking, The Moon Also Rises is a joy.