1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 175

Sunrise Over Sea, by John Butler Trio
Suggested by Nicholas Fitterson

For my first year of University, in Aberystwyth, I was stationed in a seafront hall of residence.

My roommate Paul and I were on the top floor, and our room had a sea view. Out front of the hall was a road, then a pavement, then the sea wall. Sometimes there was a beach there, but it was mostly waves lapping against the concrete.

During my year, staring out to sea, I witnessed some strange things. I saw two eight-man rowboats crest the far off horizon and power their way to the beach, where the crews disembarked, hoisted the boats onto their shoulders, and ran off into town. I had a snowball fight on the beach, and I saw murky sluices of tea-coloured sludge bob and slosh towards the shore, where they crested against the beach in a bubbling froth.

And of course, I watched the sun set, and rise, over the sea many times.

Intro? TICK.

Bosh! Done. Moving on…

The John Butler Trio are an Australian Roots / Blues Rock band hailing from Australia. They are centred on the titular singer / songwriter / guitarist John Butler himself, a pure vehicle to showcase his prodigious skills. Many players have come and gone from the trio, but John Butler remains inevitable, like a finger-picking Thanos.

Sunrise Over Sea starts with the exceptional Treat Yo Mama, a pure funky rock track with a strong message. It’s a powerful, driven beast, while retaining an emotive, rootsy feel. Butler rocks us with a lapsteel in Treat Yo Mama. For those of you who can’t be arsed to Google, a lapsteel is a guitar played in the lap, and sounded through a slide or “steel”.

John Butler’s guitar work is soulful and exciting, as it is throughout the album. He’s a multi-instrumentalist too, turning his hand to banjo and E-Bow alongside the abovementioned lapsteel. Vocally, he’s emotive and expressive, but not particularly masterful. It’s in no way a detriment to enjoyment, however, because the real talent in Sunrise Over Sea is the wonderful songwriting. Butler’s deft touch dances through a selection of style changes, without losing the central focus on showcasing his singular talents. The tracks frame his vocal perfectly, and serve as a pedestal for his six-stringed prowess.

Aside from my standout Treat Yo Mama, other songs of note include the power-piece Company Sin, the lighter-than-air Better Man, and the melancholy Peaches and Cream This is a slow and tender tribute to John’s infant daughter. His daughter is called Banjo, by the way. Banjo Butler. … I do hope her middle name is Kazooie.

Sunrise Over Sea deserves its 8/10. It’s an excellent album, packed with genre-busting tracks and a vibrant, rollicking roots feel. The rocking songs rock, the slower songs move, and the talent of the trio emanates from every rattle and hum.

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