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Album Review

Mike Stinson & Johnny Irion – ‘Working My Way Down’ [Album Review]

Set apart by the perfectly flawed authenticity of the voices of Mike Stinson and Johnny Irion, Working My Way Down is first-rate.



Mike Stinson & Johnny Irion ‘Working My Way album artwork

Working My Way Down, the new album from Mike Stinson & Johnny Irion, began twenty-five years ago in the San Fernando Valley, where Stinson and Irion lived and wrote songs in an old farmhouse behind a rehearsal studio named The Alley.

The album features eleven songs from Johnny, Mike, and Andy Jones recorded to analog tape on the STUDER tape machine that was housed in Jackson Browne’s studio that is now planted in Johnny’s home studio.

When they weren’t writing songs, the two played as sidemen in other bands, as well as working day jobs. In his day job, Mike worked with his friend Andy Jones, who had a prog-rock band called Bigelf. A wizard at songwriting, Andy, inspired by Mike and Johnny’s sound, wrote some songs radiating the very essence of the twosome’s country rock vibe.

Then life intervened. A marriage, geographical distance, and the sudden death of Andy coalesced to put their music on the shelf. Yet Mike and Johnny communicated regularly. Now, finally, the songs have been recorded – revealing the latent musical chemistry that was always there but was never fulfilled.

Working My Way Down begins with “The Bottle and Me,” a rousing country-rock tune featuring gritty guitars, chopping piano notes, and twangy vocals.

Highlights include the title track, conjuring up suggestions of Tom Petty blended with Neil Young. Pinched vocals and unfettered guitars give the tune deliciously loose textured layers. The result is wide-ranging, free dynamics.

Mike Stinson & Johnny Irion

Mike Stinson & Johnny Irion

A bit like The Georgia Satellites, “Cosmic Candy” pumps out dirty, bluesy waves of country rock with a fun vibe. A personal favourite because of its upbeat feel, “Brand New Love Song” flows on an undulating rhythm topped by lusciously imperfect harmonies laced with drawling inflections.

“You Came A Long Way From St. Louis” delivers galvanizing, straight-ahead country rock dripping with tints of blues from sleazy, murky guitars.

Set apart by the perfectly flawed authenticity of the voices of Mike Stinson and Johnny Irion, Working My Way Down is first-rate.

Working My Way Down Track Listing:

1. The Bottle And Me
2. Working My Way Down
3. Ponderosa Pine
4. Only Friend I Ever Had
5. Cosmic Candy
6. Taking No For An Answer
7. Brand New Love Song
8. LA Cowboy
9. You Came A Long Way From St. Louis
10, Last Chance to Hide From Love
11. Stranger Here Myself

Run Time: 35:42
Release Date: March 24, 2023
Record Label: Blackwing Music