John Butler Trio - April Uprising
Roots music: in recent years, it's got a bad rap due to people like Jack Johnson diluting it, adding a pop/rock/surf twist to it, and consequently making it more palatable for the mainstream - usually for the worse. A musician like John Butler, however, has so far managed to make his own stamp on the roots scene without tainting the core of the genre, or - as some may put it - 'selling out'.
After fifteen years in the business, the Australian guitar virtuoso has still retained his credibility, but his fifth album isn't as radical as its title or its cover might suggest. Perhaps not the most vivid showcase of his playing skills (you won't find many Rodrigo y Gabriela-style solos here), the emphasis here is on the songs, the melodies, and, as always, the rhythm and cadence of Butler's likeable voice.
'April Uprising' is swathed in the likeability factor, that's for certain - how could the gentle chug of songs like the slinky, bluesy pop of 'I'd Do Anything' and the tense rattle of 'Take Me' be anything other than inoffensive? 'One Way Road' and 'Don't Wanna See Your Face' are equally affable, mixing Anthony Kiedis-esque vocals with a smattering of Prince-style funk into the mix, while the banjo-addled 'Ragged Mile' is probably the most authentic roots/folk song on offer.
Yet there's still something missing from Butler's sound that makes it appealing to more than his ardent fanbase. A perfectly acceptable album, but one that's far from revolutionary.
Review by Lauren Murphy | 09:00 | Tuesday 13th April 2010 | Album Review
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