CD Review: John Butler Trio – April Uprising

Review: Lana Harris

John Butler Trio - photo credit Polly Armstrong
John Butler TrioClick here for John Butler Trio at iTunes
  John Butler and his newly revised trio (bringing Nicky Bomba to drums/ percussion and Byron Luiters to bass) have made every effort to make April Uprising an accessible folk rock record. Single ‘One Way Road’ was available for free download from several media outlets last year, on top of being the summer promo track on a certain digital sports channel, which guaranteed the single reached new ears. The Trio have also value added the LP by including a poster, environmentally friendly sized lyrics booklet and free trucker’s hat to those who buy the physical CD rather than download.

The album isn’t confined to material matching the radio friendly single. April Uprising sees Butler don outfits from a range of musical styles whilst accessorising with his well worn in capitalist criticisms and left dressing political lyrics. ‘Close To You’ is the second single release and provides a mellower pace for fans. ‘C’mon Now’ is sure to prove popular, with its short, powerful riffs that emulate the pop- punk Ramone’s style school of guitar playing, wedded surprisingly successfully to a saccharine tone hiding jibes at the song’s subject; insults which only emerge on close listening (or careful reading of that lyrics booklet). ‘Johnny’s Gone’ rounds out the tracks-which-will-sell-as-singles list, with melodious hand-claps and comparisons of the previous prime minister’s governing skills to the reckless driving of a stolen car.

‘Ragged Mile’ (subtitled ‘spirit song’) is one of the stand out tracks of the album. Listening invoked feelings of walking alone in a foliage-dark forest, a bit hunted and certainly watched; haunted by the ‘oohs’ that reverberate across the track as though echoing from the recesses of a rain sheltering cave. ‘Don’t Wanna See Your Face’ has some interesting rhythms – a bit country, a bit hoe-down, but those happy hay bales are hiding some spiky jibes at music reviewers. ‘Take Me’ sees the Trio slow down and hang out with a mellower, bluesish focus.

The one track which jarred was ‘To Look like You’, where Butler slips into the skin of a shallow adolescent. Unlike other tracks, where it’s often necessary to really concentrate to get the whole message, this song cries out all too clearly ‘I’m just a teenage girl sitting in my room…’ and this bizarre first person narrative coming from the mouth of an adult man detracts from an instrumentally strong song. The track sits up perkily amongst a general decrease in tempo towards the ends of the album, ending with the lullaby ‘A Star is born’, one of the few tracks which raises rather than lowers the listener’s opinion of its subject.

Tucked throughout the more wide reaching tracks are songs which don’t sway so far from previous JBT efforts. Even the tracks that take their inspiration from further a field than the folk rock paddock are still clearly seeds sown by Butler. Long standing fans will appreciate this continuity, while there is enough track diversity to keep newer listeners intrigued as well. So come one, come all, whether a long standing Butler fan or just a fan of the soundtrack to your summer sports, there are tunes here to please almost every kind of listener.

April Uprising Cover   JOHN BUTLER TRIO – the new album ‘APRIL UPRISING’ out March 26, 2010

Available now as a pre-order from iTunes, and all good record stores, and at
John Butler TrioClick here for John Butler Trio at iTunes

CD Review: John Butler Trio – One Way Road
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