Listening to Tyler Butler’s Winter King is akin to the feeling one has when they’re tucked warm and safe in their bed on a cold winter’s night. His music is calming, soothing, nearly magical.
Butler in fact almost creates his own world over the course of the album’s eight songs. It’s a very natural world, as many of the song titles attest to, such as “Kingfisher” and “Waxwing” (in fact the last four songs are all dedicated to birds) and even “Barghest” (which is a mythological black dog). The minimalistic folk that Butler plays as musical accompaniment to this beautiful world is perfectly suited. There is usually not more than the picking of an acoustic guitar with the occasional accordion.
In addition to the instruments, Butler’s voice is also soothing to behold. He sings gently, just powerful enough to make an impact but not so loud as to sound manic. He is always in control of every phrase he sings, such as in the beginning of “Barghest”: “There is that which makes you frightened/It is the coming of the darkness.”
What makes this album so completely arresting is likely the quiet passion that Butler inserts into all of his lyrics. No one song seems more trivial than the previous; each song contains its own story, something that some songwriters have forgotten. “Child-Ghost” for example is a story that could probably have a novel based on it; “Morana” tells the tale of a woman with “a crown of wild fores hair”; “Plover” disturbingly talks of a girl who could potentially drown.
Winter King is most certainly not an album to be enjoyed to fill silence while you’re doing something else- this is one experience that requires your absolute and full attention. Before too long you’ll probably fall under the enchantment of Tyler Butler and his all-encompassing mythological world.
Winter King is available for streaming and purchase over at Bandcamp.
Top Tracks: “Barghest”; “Waxwing”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) +*swoop*