Review- “Violence”- Tyler Butler

reviewed by Michael Thomas

Despite the title and the not immediately apparent (but nonetheless threatening) cover art, Tyler Butler’s music is not threatening or aggressive. Still, the very notion of looking at an album cover in which the artist is pointing a gun at you should be enough to unnerve a little.

Your potential jumpiness should be dispelled fairly quickly upon listening. The EP is meant to be a critique of masculinity in the west.

Butler’s last release, Winter King, glittered with a sound that was just as cool as the season it referenced. Here, Butler takes a similar tone. The songs are slower numbers, but all four are equally heartfelt.

This time around, he’s also employed the help of Ashton Richard Klassen and Courtney Løberg of Goose Lake, a band that Butler frequently champions (and who released an EP that I really liked). Their presence on this EP is subtle, but appreciated when listening.

The first song on the album is “Sprinter in a Field,” a beautiful opener featuring (as every song does) a simple, melodic strumming of an acoustic guitar. Butler’s voice is perfectly suited to the wonderful words he sings, such as this line repeated as a chorus: “She longs for the sun to lie her down.” The chorus also features the two from Goose Lake providing some awesome harmonies.

“Ben” tells the story of a distinct character. “All I want is a piece of land by the water,” sings Butler. A musical interlude features some great subtle additional instrumentation, in this case a banjo and an organ.

Then there’s “Violence in the North Saskatchewan,” the longest song on the EP at about six-and-a-half minutes. It weaves a tale that does indeed reference violence, but the song itself isn’t angry- it’s melancholic, wistful.

Finally there’s “Workhorse,” a song that reminds me of another song that I just can’t place the name of. Regardless, the descriptive lyrics and the dark tones of the added piano to the song made this my favourite of the EP.

Violence is a recording that continues Butler’s tradition of creating a uniformly excellent atmosphere. It’s available from Bandcamp.

Top Track: “Workhorse”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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