Warshy is the new solo project from Darren Johns, the frontman of British folk punks Crazy Arm. The project celebrated its first release this week with the drop of a self-titled EP. “Operation Chaos” is the opening track of the EP, and features some sublime fiddle work from Samantha Spake.
Warshy came into existence last year when Johns was on tour in the US, and is an opportunity for Johns to further explore the roots and influences that have underpinned Crazy Arm’s three records to date. If you haven’t already heard of Crazy Arm, I do really recommend checking them out. They’ve got some stellar live credentials, having toured the UK and Europe with the likes of Frank Turner, Against Me!, Chuck Ragan and others. Although ostensibly more stripped back, and less ‘abrasive’ than the Crazy Arm material, the songs on Warshy seem to share a lot in common with Crazy Arm’s most recent album, 2013’s The Southern Wild, which saw the band go acoustic.
Despite its name “Operation Chaos” boasts a somewhat idyllic opening, with gentle fingerpicked guitar and that aforementioned fiddle. However, the pastoral instrumentation belies the politically charged lyrics, which serves as a reminder of folk music’s radical and political roots. Johns and Crazy Arm have never hidden their political proclivities; “Song of Choice” from their second album Union City Breath, for example, warns against the rise of the Alt. Right in the UK. “Operation Chaos”, with its references to the anti-capitalist motto “No War But The Class War” and left-wing political struggles is cut from a similar cloth. Interestingly, the song almost comes across as elegiac, though the line “It’s not the curtain call” does suggest this is not the end of Johns’ activism.
“Operation Chaos” and Warshy is a strong opening salvo, and has me both looking forward to more solo material, but also more Crazy Arm – certainly it’s got me revisiting those earlier albums.
“Operation Chaos” and Warshy is available now. For more on Warshy you can find him on Facebook.
Header photo sourced from artist’s Facebook page. Image by Marisa Kathryn Finan-Goode.