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It's April 2017 and spring is in the air - a time of natural transition and new beginnings. We all know life is about the journey rather than the destination, and if we find ourselves at a crossroads, the trick is not to know when to stop, but when to start!
This new site is a start, of sorts. As is the forthcoming album UNIVERSAL STRANGER.
As I was writing and recording the songs for the album a subconscious theme running throughout eventually revealed itself. It was a big ask - to somehow make our private peace resonate elsewhere and try to get where we all could, and even should, be.
I know it's a truism, but apart from a handful of people who we really know & understand, we are all strangers to each other - even though we're probably closer in the basics than it feels.
We're all primarily driven by the same fundamental need to breathe, survive and make some sense of our life. But there's always a part of us that remains us. A part seen by no-one else. Which is as close to a definition of the human soul as I think anyone will ever get.
I'm sure most of us, given the opportunity, would also like to do some good in the world. After all: culture, intelligence, history, race and belief all course through our collective souls.
I also wanted to make the songs sound clear but fearless and let friendly production principles offer up twists and turns just to keep things lovingly awkward. "
You know how it is?
Jon C Butler's Universal Stranger is due for release
on 28 July 2017 (Strataville).
UNIVERSAL STRANGER - THE SONGS
Here's a few words about the songs on Universal Stranger.
Best read while listening to the album of course!
1) When The Walls Went Down
A sonic shoot along the decades since the Great Society. Well, my take on it at least. Wonder if we could have got things together better than we have?
I certainly think it’s a possibility but you never know. Maybe this actually is the best we can do! So, if you need a memory prompt, this song can help ease you into it.
2) Each Other
A folk song really. I bet it wouldn’t seem out of place at Aldermaston strummed on nylon strings. It chugs and bounces along with serious intent.
3) A Little Misunderstanding
There has been a misunderstanding hasn’t there? I mean we all know it isn’t meant to be like this and maybe there should be a reassessment of the deal. Stay away from that crossroad if you have to make a choice.
4) The Man Who Wouldn’t Love
I heard this phrase spoken and it stayed with me. I love listening to crafted tunes and this one is my offering in that department with the use of major sevenths and the general piano base of the song. It’s a redeemed blues sentiment in a way.
5) Universal Stranger
Written after a stay in a northern capital city. I like harmonies to be part of the sound as if they are an instrument themselves. This may come over like it's directed at an individual but its also yours to pick up and apply where necessary.
There is more than one Birmingham on the planet and this is a spoonful of chords wrapped around a tale of escape and new beginning. Should be a book really, but I like to stay within the four-minute zone with metaphors and confessions.
7) Ghost In My Heart
Tried to arrange this in that mid-seventies style that briefly ran parallel to dear old punk.
I mean at the same time as safety-pin chic there were a few great records coming over from the East Coast which seemed to want to use quite uplifting vocal techniques married to a driving beat.
This is the album's respectable song in a way that is self-evident after a couple of listens.
8) In The Wishing Well
It may be that whole lives are lived inside the wishing well! If that’s the case with others then it’s the case with me.
Don’t get me wrong it's not so bad down there. But it has its limitations and reality is a good teacher.
9) Mr Rock n Roll
OK, OK. I know! But have a good listen because whilst it’s a familiar tale in a familiar format it does carry experience. It’s a bit of a lark and I can handle a lark!
10) The First Stone
Who's going to throw it? Some of those rocks can cause more damage to the thrower than the target.
11) Would Have Should Have
It's an attempt at dealing with the past in order to let it go and move along. An attempt is just that and not a definite route out but it’s a clear enough retrospective.
And in case you were wondering this is how it reflects back to me.