On album number six, John Butler takes a step off his social and political soapbox to sip wine at the altar of love.
Flesh & Blood is Butler’s most collaborative effort to date. To give you a taste, there’s the catchy single, ‘Only One’; the high-energy, blues rock number ‘Devil Woman’; and the dub, ‘Blame It On Me’, co-written from jams with his tight-knit bandmates Byron Luiters and Nicky Bomba (who has since left the group to focus on Melbourne Ska Orchestra).
Across 11 tracks, Butler stills sings with his occasionally gentle and sometimes feisty lead vocals, and the music boasts funky grooves and rhythms that touch on the rock, folk, pop, and hip-hop styles.
The singer-songwriter has definitely spread his wings a little with this album, adding extra layers and programmed beats to his folk songs and acknowledging that his lyrical inspiration was from other people (like the young, junkie couple that inspired ‘Young & Wild’). But despite this apparent departure, Butler remains true to his old form while also sounding fresh and keeping things personal, honest, and emotional.
‘Wings Are Wide’ is the best example of this, a raw love song that was written from his late grandmother’s perspective, and a tune that encapsulates the decades she mourned for her late husband.
Flesh & Bone is a full and meaty record that, while diverse and varied, does overstay its welcome a little, especially when lyrical clichés are offered up in ‘Livin’ In The City’. But despite some minor flaws, what’s left behind is a very true and human album where the well of inspiration proves to be deep, rich, and plentiful.
Originally published on 25 February 2014 at the following website: http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/reviews/new-music/388090/flesh-blood.htm
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