CD Review: John Butler Trio – One Way Road

Review by: Lana Harris

One Way Road   John Butler Trio have been injecting mainstream consciousness with a social conscience since 2001. Along the way, John Butler has added fans, lost the dreads, changed the line up, but kept the message the same. The unique voice, more likely to sing about the heartbreak caused by cruel, heartless companies rather than a cruel, heartless lover, has played both Woodford Folk Festival and the Big Day Out, a testament to the diversity of hearts strings twanged by his 12 string banjo.

The new single ‘One Way Road’ confidently cuts the next part of the alternate path Butler has forged into the mainstream forest. Butler’s quick tumbling waterfall of words plunges into a stream of strong riffs in a guitar centric tune which uses his voice almost as another instrument. The track opens with riffs as big and chunky as those from the long extinct Men at Work, before paring back to focus on the lyrical burst which uses Butler’s voice as a tool for weaving together harmonies and rhythms in the song. His vocals vary more in beat, speed and emphasis than the drums themselves. Throw a guitar solo into all of that and you’ve got the sort of song that has kept John Butler Trio at the front of Australian music minds for almost ten years now.

The consistency in style that has remained throughout several line up changes demonstrates how much John Butler Trio is Butler’s band. Powerful riffs, political lyrics, and a strong focus on the front man and his voice are themes running through all of the John Butler Trio albums. It’s the way in which these themes have been used that has altered during the travels, with fresh variations appearing with each new offering. ‘One Way Road’ is another twist in the path for Butler. It’s not so much new ground as walking a different way through parkland that has already proved popular.

John Butler Trio – ‘One Way Road’ Single and Tour

John Butler TrioJohn Butler Trio