Category: brad butcher

Album review: From the Bottom of a Well by Brad Butcher

If, like me, you have loved music for as long as you can remember, and even been obsessed with certain albums and artists at various times, your affection sometimes waning but generally keeping faith with those you have loved most, you’ll have been lucky enough to feel the rapture that comes with discovering someone great, looking forward to their next release and being rewarded for your anticipation.
Brad Butcher is a Queensland singer-songwriter whose first album still has me in thrall. His second album, Jamestown, proved that the first was no fluke. Butcher is a terrific songwriter, and, yes, he can sing and all that good stuff. But some artists have magic in them – almost a sorcery that can make you think of their songs at the oddest times and all the emotions that those songs conjure are as strong as they were the first few times you heard that particular combination of notes and words.
That is a kind of brilliance, and it’s also something that can’t really be defined, otherwise we’d all know what it is and go and pluck it from a shelf somewhere. Songs from both of Butcher’s albums still make me stop and listen, and occasionally cry too, even though I know them well. His stories are not complicated but they are meaningful, and there’s enough meaning in them to merit going back to them over and over, because they can deliver it each time.
So, listening to Butcher’s third album, From the Bottom of a Well, for the first time, I obviously had expectations, while still trying to approach it with an open mind. I did not actually want a repeat of either of the first two albums, because they’re perfect as they are – and that’s lucky, because I didn’t get it. Instead, From the Bottom of a Well is a beautiful evolution of Butcher’s skills and sounds. One of his constant strengths has been has willingness to be emotional without being manipulative of his listener. He does not write songs to provoke a response – he tells the story as it is, and brings in whatever emotion is there without second guessing what’s going to work (or perhaps he’s just honed his craft well enough that the guessing gets eliminated early in the process). That is the authenticity that the country music audience loves, which is why he’s found a home there.
His music is also a huge compliment to his listener: he is saying to us that he trusts that we’ll understand what he’s telling us, and he’s inviting us into the experience. The compliment is also there in how he sings: he has always had crisp articulation married with a warm tone, and that combination, again, is an invitation to the listener.

The songs on this album are a mixture of personal accounts (‘All Said & Done’, ‘More to the Story’) and other people’s stories (‘Glasgow Train’, ‘Well Dressed Man’), and there is no sense that Butcher values one over the other. He understands his role as a storyteller, and he has always been adept at serving the story and the song.

These are also songs that grow in impact with each listening – several of them become more moving with time and consideration. That’s due to the layers within them lyrically, and within Butcher’s voice, and also, perhaps, those introduced in the recording process. Butcher’s producer for this album is Matt Fell, who has given it a different sound to that heard on the previous two albums, with more texture and light and shade. These elements give the listener cues, but none of that matters if the songs aren’t working. They do – every single one.

This is another album that will make me stop and listen for years to come, and as someone who has loved music for as long as I can remember, that is just the best thing ever.

From the Bottom of a Well is out now.

 

Single release: ‘Well Dressed Man’ by Brad Butcher

Queensland singer-songwriter Brad Butcher has released two albums and they were two of the best releases of recent times. He is an exceptional songwriter and a performer who wants to connect with his audience and knows how to do it consistently. His sound is not traditional country but country music is an appropriate umbrella for a man who writes and sings from the heart.

Butcher will release his third album, From the Bottom of the Well, on 4 August. From that album he has released the single ‘Well Dress Man’. It was inspired by Butcher’s grandfather, Norman, who grew up as one of thirteen children in a cane cutter’s cottage just south of Mackay in Central Queensland. Norm was a beacon of hope and resilience to his large family during the tough times of the years after the Great Depression and during World War II.

Watch the video for ‘Well Dressed Man’ below.
Pre-order From the Bottom of the Well on


bradbutcher.com

Album review: Jamestown by Brad Butcher

The opening track of Brad Butcher’s second album, Jamestown, is ‘Simple Things’, in which he sings: ‘The simple things/We must embrace/And I’m on my way’. Inherent in this is the restlessness of someone who is searching – for experiences, for meaning. It’s someone who can appreciate the ‘simple things’ but then, as Butcher sings in the refrain, ‘the simple things lead me on my way’. The simple things are to be appreciated, but they are never enough: there is more to be found. The simple things are the catalyst for discovery.


It is this philosophy that infuses the album: that there is beauty and meaning in small moments, although a person can never stop trying to be better and do more. This is not a philosophy shared by everyone, yet it also proves that Butcher is prepared to take risks: these songs may not be for you, but they are true for him. You can either appreciate the honesty of what he’s doing, and the vulnerability that comes with that, or not.

Butcher is a Romantic, and the capital R is on purpose. Romanticism as a movement was concerned with imagination, emotion and freedom – Butcher’s songs each contain these elements, and the album as a whole is not a manifesto so much as an expression of a philosophy; perhaps, even, a wish. Many of Butcher’s songs sound as if he wants the world to be a kinder, gentler place – and that he takes responsibility for trying to make it that way. After listening to Jamestown, I’m convinced that he’s achieving it.

It is an album that can make the listener feel wistful, sad and even strangely nostalgic – like he’s nipping at the heels of a memory that can’t be his, because it belongs only to the listener. That’s the sign that Butcher is able to do what any great storyteller should: take a common experience and describe it in a way that resonates with the listener (or reader), even describe it in a way that is new but still recognisable.

It’s also an album that achieves something uncommon – at least, for me. It made me want to be a better person. It made me want to try harder and also remember to appreciate those simple things. It made me want to be still as I listened to it and also rush outside to find the birds and the trees.

The only thing that made me stop listening to Brad Butcher’s first album was the arrival of his second. I won’t mind if he takes a while to make a third, so that I can keep listening to them both, on repeat, looking at the moon and paying heed to the wind, wondering what adventures are out there and knowing that there are plenty also to be found within the lines of his songs. 

Jamestown is out now.

New Brad Butcher single, ‘Believer’

One of my favourite discoveries in recent years has been Brad Butcher. I was about a year late to his debut album, but now I’m slightly ahead of the new album, as this is the video for its first single. The single is ‘Believer’; the album is called Jamestown and it will be released in March 2015. Which, frankly, is far too long to have to wait! But hopefully Brad will play at the next Tamworth Country Music Festival and that will fill the gap.

If you’re new to Mr Butcher’s music, you can watch the video for ‘Believer’ below – or just take my word for it and buy the first album immediately.

Brad Butcher’s next album …

… Will happen, but he needs a bit of support of the crowd-funding kind.

Crowd-funding is increasingly popular amongst Australian country music artists (and artists from other genres – Brad’s not strictly country). The albums that have resulted thus far have been of the highest quality – in the last year or so they’ve included outstanding releases from Melody Pool, The McMenamins and Jess Holland. The crowd-funding model works well for the recording of albums because, essentially, you’re just ordering a copy of the album in advance.

Brad’s debut, eponymous album is still on high rotation for me after many months of listening – if you’d like to read some more constructed thoughts about it, my review is here. And if you’ve read that review, you’ll know why I’m keenly suggesting you support Brad in this new venture. If anyone is worth pre-ordering, it’s this bloke. And you can do so here: http://www.pozible.com/project/180402.

To find out more about Brad and his music, visit www.bradbutcher.com.

Album review: Brad Butcher

I meant to review Brad Butcher’s debut album weeks ago. Perhaps even months ago. But I found I couldn’t stop listening to it long enough to work out what I actually wanted to say about it. Now, I’ve forced myself away – reluctantly.
At very first, shallow listening, this album seemed to have musical echoes of Jack Johnson and Pete Murray – and I’m not a huge fan of either artist so I was close to abandoning ship. But then a few bars of Butcher’s voice made me realise that he is his own man and his own songwriter, and this album is his alone. If anything, the clue to his real influence lies in his choice of a Bruce Springsteen song to cover (‘I’m on Fire’), its echo found in the bridge of ‘The Old Man’s Gone’, which is just one of several unforgettable songs on this album.
Butcher tells stories about life, death, ageing, families and towns. He tells those stories from the heart yet he isn’t mawkish or falsely sentimental. When he performs ‘The Old Man’s Gone’ live, he says he wrote it for his niece when he heard that her father – his brother – was getting divorced. That story can certainly be identified within the lyrics, but as with all great storytellers Butcher has found a way to write the story so that it resonates with other people. The opening track, ‘Pipe Song’, is so much more than its prosaic title suggests – it is about choosing life over death, and sometimes death over life, and how to live in between those points. ‘There You Are’ muses – but not too long – on the role fate plays in our relationships with those we hold most dear.
The overall tone of this album is reflective and slightly melancholy, but there is a lot of joy on it as well. And always, always, Butcher sounds as though he is singing to a listener, not to a microphone – he has found a way to connect without knowing at all who is going to be ‘out there’ listening to his songs. Moreover, Butcher’s diction is so crystalline that the rough edges you think you hear on his voice are just a characteristic of his singing style – they in no way obliterate the words he sings or their meaning. This is a performer who has taken care documenting his songs – the courtesy he shows to the listener is there in every note.
Great songwriting, like all great art, is alchemy – it is impossible to tease out the parts of it and identify exactly how those parts joined together to make the impressive whole. Sometimes the alchemy happens because of the voice that sings the songs. I have listened to the songs on this album over and over and cannot work out exactly why they’re so different and so appealing and why they find their mark every single time, no matter how often I’ve listened to them. All I can presume is that Butcher is a kind of genius, and he has found a way to marry his songs and his voice in just the right way, either arriving at it intuitively or through hard work or, more likely, both. The album is definitely worth your time, and Brad Butcher should definitely make another one soon.   
Brad Butcher is out now, through Vitamin Records