We have been following Edmonton-based songwriter Tyler Butler ever since hearing his majestic album Winter King (which features ‘Morana’, the song Jon choose as his track of 2011 and has now been re-released with a bonus track). Further exploration led us to Feral Horse which showed that Winter King wasn’t a one off and that Butler is right up there amongst the best songwriters in modern folk/acoustic music. Violence, a new EP that is due out next week (22nd October), is yet more evidence to support this rather large claim.
At serious risk of repeating ourselves (as most of our pieces of songwriters end up analysing this angle), the secret to a good folk song is in the writing. Here Butler excels. The lyrics are expertly crafted and you get the impression that these are snapshots of much wider stories that we are lucky enough to glimpse, fleeting impressions of continuing feelings and emotions. There is a feeling that the songs are set in a time passed, a simpler period where love is more innocent and romance is just that, which, along with a yearning for a simpler way of life (not exactly Walden but a desire for a modest life that probably speaks to many an office worker on a monday morning) is ideal against the stark guitar and mournal vocals.This removal from the tedious complications of modern living is a clever one, allowing a real sense of intimacy and tragedy that may (rightly or wrongly) appear trite in a modern setting. The track ‘Ben’, which can be heard below, sums up the style perfectly, reading:
"All I want is a piece of land by the water
when the cold wind comes and dries my nose and mouth.
I would raise an early home and face to the east
and bring only my hands and wife and mind.”
Feeling needs to be conveyed through both sound and lyrics, and both of these need to align and sound natural together. Where some artists and bands fall down is their failure to address differences between sound and subject matter. Tyler Butler sounds like a man in situ, a natural writer and musician that needs no banjo or corduoy trousers to signify his root-sy leanings, he relies on affecting strumming and beautifully developed narratives and imagery. This is proper music.
Violence is set for release on Cabin Songs, a folk offshoot of Old Ugly Recording Co., on Oct 22nd. Pre-order a CD or digital copy from Bandcamp or, if you are lucky enough to be in/near Edmonton next Saturday (20th Oct) then why not get yourself down to the Cabin Songs launch/Violence release party at The Rutherford House?
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