Most of us have simple, uniform desires. To love unconditionally. To be a better person. Be in good health. Everything else seems like greed. I want all of those things – and am grateful to have found a few – but I can’t suppress the need for something more traditional. A workmanlike drive to build something, be it love, a family or a home.
Those things are so humble that they should be a right not a want, but they escape so many of us. Tyler Butler sings of flaws I share. He sings of hands with a tender touch that are too soft to bend or shape. Arms open for warm embrace, but too frail to lift beams. A man too broken to be of value in quatifiable means. Those fears haunt more men than are likely to admit, so hearing one sing so openly is powerful in its simplicity.
Tyler doesn’t use his stage to shine a light back on his own tales and observations. These aren’t broken hearts and clever puns. These four songs are little more than dreams and fears grounded by a reality that won’t change with new chords or verses. Thankfully, he doesn’t try to dress these ideas in the finest cloth. With help from the fantastic Goose Lake, Tyler uses spare picks, harmonies and open space to draw focus to insecurities and force the listener’s hand. Nothing is scrubbed or filtered; the honesty of tape hiss and fret board friction are as important as his words.
We all beg for change, and on “Violence By the North Saskatchewan” Butler hopes for cleansing, some sort of spiritual rebirth. Tape hiss flows like the current, but that salvation is not easy to find. He hints that humans stay as we are made, and demons can’t be exised so easily. We won’t change without a fight. We need someone to help us take that first step and then need to summon the strength to hold on and never let go.