Sandyman Flynn‘s heart lies in the mist-draped hills and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains. The Chattanooga musician explores an earthen, acoustic echo gracefully pulled from the strings of his guitar. After their creation in 1974, he toured as a founding member of “mountain rock” band Cullowhee and would go on to be a staff writer at Tree Publishing on Music Row in Nashville. Over the years, he’s shared the stage with artists such as Jimmy Buffet, Jerry Jeff Walker and David Allen Coe.
His voice is filled with the experiences of a live well-lived, aided on its way by the strums and plucks of his acoustic guitar. There’s no doubt as to the musical lineages that he channels — artists like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie are well represented, as are the mountainous folk and gospel musicians who lent their voices to Alan Lomax’s grand folk adventures in the ’30s and ’40s. He manages to exude a sense of rhythmic antiquity alongside a modernist perspective on the importance of folk music.
On his record, “This is the Day,” Flynn conjures a parallel America where the dust bowl swept away half of the country and the remaining half live a sepia-toned existence fueled by the momentum of a thousand banjos, fiddles and acoustic guitars. Careening from buoyant folk musings to more austere melodic observations, he doesn’t linger in one spot for very long, opting instead to travel the length of his insatiable creativity in search of some new sound to illuminate within this extensive musical landscape.
These tracks feel worn and weary at times but also steady and possessing a heartbeat that could shake Lookout Mountain to the ground. Songs like “Little Bit o Light” and “This is the Day” are filled with a light and persuasive folk touch, propelled to their conclusions by Flynn’s earnest and intimate vocals. Others such as “Peace and Quiet” and “It’s Love” are a bit more pensive in their expressions, choosing to linger on the edges of your periphery rather than surge ahead into the spotlight. Flynn has created more than just an ode to a bygone era; he’s reshaped and adapted these sounds for a whole new generation.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.