The New Regime: Johnny Flynn & Laura Marling

For songwriters with such a precise way with words, Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling are all over the map these days. “I feel really connected to all the places that I’ve been and the images and stories that I’ve picked up along the way,” says Flynn, originally from South Africa, who met his kindred spirit and touring mate Marling in London, after the Hampshire-raised beauty moved away from her home at the age of 16. “I forgave myself for being a kid,” she says of the songs on her Mercury Prize-nominated debut album, Alas I Cannot Swim, released after her eighteenth birthday, featuring her smoky, intoxicating alto. “Everything up until then had been a massive self-indulgence, very teenage.”

Today, Marling draws on classic literary canons — the Brontë sisters are among her favorite writers — and a long tradition of folk music. Flynn displayed an equally lithe and literary touch on his highly praised album, A Larum. Before making his mark as a songwriter, he performed in an all-male Shakespearean theater troupe. And even though the Bard continues to be an inspiration, Flynn performs anything but golden oldies. “We’re playing instruments that have been around for hundreds of years,” he says, “but I believe that you can be present in your relationship to the past. The sound of my music has to be contemporary.”

Photo: Isa Wipfli, at Bowery Ballroom