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Review: 'John Butler Trio'

-  Label: 'Because Music'
-  Genre: 'Alt/Country' -  Release Date: '28.9.18.'-  Catalogue No: 'BEC5543678'

Our Rating:
This is John Butler's fourth album to go to number 1 in his native Australia and the Trio is now expanded to a quintet and having been asked to review his music for a while this album is the first time I've really listened to him properly even though he's been around for quite a while. All of the cool and interesting artwork on this album is on the inner sleeve and the back of the lyric sheet and they are well worth seeing for some great drawings although many of you will like the pic of John sitting on a stool with his acoustic guitar that's on the cover.

So from the opening Tahitian Blue that is a bold statement of how he loves her deeper than Tahitian Blue it is well produced without a thing out of place and has a good modern country feel to it. They then do the bands version of Wade In The Water that was a recent single that rather than play it straight up as a gospel song have added elements of Midnight Rider to modernise it without losing the meaning of the song it's a measured approach that really works pretty well and the guitars sound really cool throughout.

Just Call starts off all down home sitting on the porch country blues as John sets out his love for the object of his desire who will hopefully melt into his arms as the song builds and builds like his love for her.

No need to guess what Running Away is about and he may feel like a broken machine but I'd love for the machine that has been used in the studio to Quantize the beats to within an inch of their lives had been broken to allow the band a more natural feel. That said it reminds me a bit of Michael Kiwanuka's big hit at least until the soft rock guitar solo comes in.

Home starts like it wants to be a goth dance song with almost drum and bass style percussion underpinning the vocals before the bass drums go all Adam and the Ants on us before it strips back and becomes a bit blander than that might suggest I like the ideas that seem to underpin the song and the drums are cool and interesting throughout but it needs some of the sheen and gloss taken off of it as it needs to sound more primal for me.

Miss Your Love is the sort of song you'd expect any touring musician to write and while the nautical imagery he uses suffers a bit from having been used to far greater effect by Florence & The Machine, even so it's a nice love song and I'm sure it will connect to lots of people.

Faith is a cool and interesting look at Faith in our times and what's going on and how to get through it all and in places this reminds me of Johnny Clegg meets maybe Red Box but with a less annoying drum sound and it's got a good sparse arrangement.

Coffee, Methadone & Cigarettes is one of the best song titles I've seen this year and is slow heartfelt song about his family's history and how his dad nulls his pain to get through the day this is poignant and rather vivid with imagery and would also be the song that I want to hear over and over to really get inside of.

Tell Me Why asks all sorts of questions as to why you'd get back together again that's played over a modern country pop song that needs to have more of a kick to it to get it to stick in your head a bit more than it does.

Brown Eyed Bird strips things back with the acoustic guitar joined by a clap track and strings before it builds and builds like a bird soaring into the sky that then swoops down as the song falls back for the verses and builds and soar's on the chorus again and eventually has an almost gospel feel to the background vocals among other interesting ideas wrapped up in a pop song.

You Don't Have To Be Angry Anymore is an interesting concept in the times we live in where permanent anger seems to be many peoples default setting, would this 80's synth pop sounding song persuade me otherwise not sure, but asking everyone to get along a bit better is never a bad thing even while in places sounding a bit Simple Minds circa Sparkle In The Rain.

The album closes with We Want More which is a brave song title to put at the end of the album as I'm sure the bands fans will want more, for me I have to say well as long as your singing about making sure not to hear the call to arms I'm with him this swells and has a very cool repeating guitar motif to accentuate the anti-war message a very good way to end the album.

The John Butler Trio are touring in Europe through most of October find out more about that and the album at www.johnbutlertrio.com www.facebook.com/johnbutlertrio
  author: simonovitch

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