Grand National

Grand National

4.5 2
by John Butler Trio
     
 

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It's been a few years now since John Butler and his trio first cracked the American market, but he's never had quite the same success in the U.S. as he has had in Australia, his father's homeland and his own residence for the past 20-odd years. Butler, however, should feel confident that he can hold his own against any of the Dave Matthewses, See more details below

Overview

It's been a few years now since John Butler and his trio first cracked the American market, but he's never had quite the same success in the U.S. as he has had in Australia, his father's homeland and his own residence for the past 20-odd years. Butler, however, should feel confident that he can hold his own against any of the Dave Matthewses, Ben Harpers, or John Mayers (all three of whom he can be easily compared to) out there. He's playing pop music, with all the sentimental, occasionally trite lyrics and clean major chord phrasing that accompany that style, but it's pop music done well, with impressive musicianship from Butler (on banjo, lapsteel, and acoustic and electric guitar), percussionist Michael Barker, and bassist Shannon Birchall. Nearly every song on Grand National features at least one instrumental solo, the kind that rolls and sings and grooves and would make Robert Randolph proud, moving close to jam band territory without immersing itself fully in it (only one song, "Gov Did Nothin'," reaches far past the four- or five-minute mark, much in part thanks to a great New Orleans-styled brass band that plays the piece out to a close, and is worth every second). His willingness to explore other genres besides bluesy folk pop -- reggae in "Groovin' Slowly," hip-hop in "Daniella," and modern rock in "Devil Running" -- certainly adds a nice diversity to the album, but unfortunately this talent is double-edged, as it also becomes the album's greatest flaw. Butler often tries to encompass too much, to do too much, and because of this, comes off sounding a little corny (in the aforementioned "Daniella," for example, which is more embarrassing than anything else), truncating words in a weird Dave Matthews-meets-Adam Sandler kind of way that's too forced and unnatural to sit well. And though it's nice to hear, in "Funky Tonight," for example, that he doesn't take himself too seriously, his simple rhymes and delivery are a bit too silly when they're about love and dancing. When he uses them in his socially and politically oriented pieces, however ("And with God on both sides/If death is justified/Whatever the name/Then we're all to blame," he sings on "Fire in the Sky"), they ring more truly, or at least more originally. But what Butler does best -- writing and performing well-crafted pop songs, and sounding like he's having fun all the while -- is good, and though Grand National still may not be his entry up the Billboard charts, it's a welcome entry nonetheless.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/27/2007
Label:
Atlantic
UPC:
0075678999642
catalogNumber:
101649

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

John Butler Trio   Primary Artist
Linda Bull   Background Vocals
Vika Bull   Vocals,Background Vocals,Soloist
Money Mark   Clavicembalo
Ray Pereira   talking drum
Sue Simpson   Violin
Helen Mountford   Cello
Jex Saarelaht   Piano,Hammond Organ
Bobby Singh   Tabla
Janette Mason   Violin
Michael Barker   Bongos,Conga,Drums,Glockenspiel,Marimbas,Tambourine,Timbales,Background Vocals,Kalimba,Claves,Timpani,Vibraslap,Vibes,Shaker,cowbell,Beat Box,Tubular Bells,Tongue Drum,Crotale,Cabasa
John Butler   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Harmonica,Electric Guitar,Ukulele,Vocals,yidaki,Lap Steel Guitar,Guitar (Nylon String),Guitar (Resonator),Weissenborn,Guitar (11 String)
Nicky Bomba   Vocals,Chant,Hand Clapping
Charlotte Armstrong   Violin
Andrea Keeble   Violin
Shannon Birchall   Violin,Bass Guitar,Background Vocals,Double Bass
Danielle Caruana   Vocals,Background Vocals,Chant,Hand Clapping
Eugene Ball   Trumpet
Aaron Barndon   Violin
Michael Caruana   Piano,Hammond Organ,Wurlitzer
Jessie Goninon   Vocals,Chant,Hand Clapping
Stacia Goninon   Vocals,Chant,Hand Clapping
Chad Hedley   Turntables
Stephanie Thom   Violin
Erkki Veltheim   Viola

Technical Credits

Mario Caldato   Producer,Engineer
Michael Barker   Producer,Contributor
Tom Walker   Artwork,Concept
John Butler   Composer,Producer,Artwork,Concept
Shannon Birchall   Composer,Producer,String Arrangements
Robin Mai   Engineer
Carmey Ground   Packaging Manager
George Nikoloudis   Engineer

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Grand National 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I cannot fathom why the John Butler Trio is not a major hit in the US. I have seem them three times in San Diego, at the House of Blues twice and small intimate venue hosted by KPRI, a local radio station. Whether in a full-on electric roar or an acoustic setting, they are superb musicians and seem to be digging every second of their performance. This album is a great example of their style, although Sunrise Over Sea probably has more "shouldabeenahits" than this collection. Their music is so organic and alive and fun, instead of the over-produced sound-a-likes that are getting huge playtime. Buy their albums, go see them live. The only fear I have of their success is that they won't play smaller venues anymore.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago