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Cirque Du Soleil
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Rising Stars [Issue #13]
The John Butler Trio: Soulful Terrain
By Dean Truitt
Sunrise Over Sea (CD Lava)

With the recent surge of several popular Australian artists including: Jet, Keith Urban, The Vines, and Kasey Chambers, it appears Down Under is on top of the music landscape.

Perhaps this year’s “most likely to succeed” candidate could be an incredible new talent named John Butler, a singer-songwriter who fuses intriguing guitar arrangements with captivating lyrical content. The John Butler Trio’s latest release, Sunrise Over Sea, is a majestic portrait of a profound artist delivering messages with passion.

The dreadlocked musician who leads the group draws from a surprisingly diverse range of style. Recalling his varied influences, Butler lists, “Everything from U2, The Smiths, Bob Marley, Jane’s Addiction, Soundgarden. Then I got into The Beastie Boys, Gillian Welch, country music, heaps of stuff . . . I love soul music. Anything that comes from the soul that is really heartfelt, I’m usually really into it.

After listening to a few tracks from his new CD, one immediately connects with Butler’s soul pouring through each groove, inflection, and word. His hypnotic slide guitar playing creates an otherworldly atmosphere with the bass and drums. Explaining his interest in slide guitar, the musician remembers, “My grandfather played slide and I never really intended on learning it. I saw [Australian guitarist] Jeff Lang play and it just made perfect sense to give it all a go. It kind of happened very easily from that point on.

However, Butler's playing is not solely based in Southern Blues tradition. There exists an ethereal pathos to the sound, which seems the perfect aural backdrop for his meaningful lyrics. One of the album’s highlights is “Zebra,” which speaks out against conformity and society’s limitations. Butler reveals, “I think a lot of people wanted to pigeonhole me into being a protest singer and I was blowing all the preconceptions out of the water and just wanted to say that I can be a lot of things.”

To Butler, the album’s title means, “A brand new start, a new beginning. I took six months off and me and my wife had a child and I started a new band and this is really the first offering from that big break.” Soon, the group will be making a large splash in America. Earning a coveted spot opening for The Black Crowes’ reunion show at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom and an appearance on David Letterman scheduled for May 29, The John Butler Trio may soon have a new beginning as international stars.

Sunrise Over Sea

Soulful Terrain The John Butler Trio Sunrise Over Sea

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