“Speed of Light” – Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion
A rollicking, low-key stomper with an old-fashioned feel, a gut-kicking beat, and rock-solid songwriting chops. The husband-wife duo of Guthrie and Irion don’t sound like they’re breaking a sweat here as they let the song do the work for them, with its three strong sections (verse, pre-chorus, chorus), its echoes of some vague lost soul classic, and an incisive lyrical payoff—almost a punchline, except it’s insightful rather than funny—at the end of the chorus that pivots the whole song into place. And I won’t give it away because you should hear it in context. And don’t miss the lyric’s musical punctuation, that vintage instrumental accent first heard at 0:54. An essential and exquisite touch.
“Speed of Light” is a song from the pair’s second full-length Bright Examples, due out in February on Ninth Street Opus. And yes, Sarah Lee is a genuine Guthrie: daughter of Arlo, granddaughter of Woody. Although she sang at age 12 on one of her father’s albums, she hadn’t necessarily planned on a musical career but eventually found collaboration with her husband too fruitful to resist.
MP3 via Ninth Street Opus. Thanks to Largehearted Boy for the lead.