Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Album Review: Chasing A Butterfly

MISSING: Intelligent, exquisitely-crafted pop album. Answers to the name Scary Fragile. Neglected by record company since January, 2006. Several songs heard on MySpace. "A Bitter Song" heard on TV series Grey's Anatomy, released as a single in 2007. Album's whereabouts of great concern to Butterfly Boucher fans. If found, please notify.

If what you just read leaves you puzzled, a little background is in order. Butterfly Boucher (pronounced like "voucher") is an Australian singer/songwriter, producer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist currently based in Nashville. She signed to a major label for her debut album, 2004's Flutterby, but the label could not figure out how to market her. No wonder Flutterby didn't become a huge success. No wonder the follow-up, Scary Fragile, collected dust even as the placement of "A Bitter Song" in an episode of Grey's Anatomy drummed up demand. And no wonder Butterfly and her label went through a lengthy divorce, Butterfly emerging from her cocoon (sorry, couldn't help it) to release SF independently.

"I've been there and I've done that/I've got the photos and I've got the scars to prove it/I'm so tired and I'm so glad for what I have." (from "They Say You Grow")

What she has in Scary Fragile is a consistently engaging, thought-provoking, and entertaining collection which sounds as fresh as the spring flowers even though it's been sitting on the shelf for over three years. And let's not mince words here: Butterfly knew she was under pressure to deliver a hit while she was creating SF. For an album made under that kind of pressure, with hot-shot producer David Kahne to boot, SF rarely comes off as a deliberate attempt to make Butterfly sound ultra-commercial. If anything, the material on SF is more challenging than the material on Flutterby, lacking the lighthearted and sometimes off-the-wall lyrical elements of her first album and making greater use of tempo changes and mood shifts. She's much more serious and sophisticated here, as well she should be.

SF also has a tendency to present familiar motifs in unexpected ways. "Keeping Warm" is not a particularly Beatlesque song, but its arrangement sure points to the late-period Fab Four, while "To Feel Love" sounds like the theme from a Western movie before revealing itself as a straightforward singer/songwriter tune. "Bright Red" contains a similar rhythm to Kelly Clarkson's "Gone," but it's a diatribe against the very shallowness which American Idol alumni like Clarkson have both benefited from and battled. Most refreshingly, "For The Love of Love" avoids being just another "peace and love" plea with its out-of-left-field lyrics: "Take all the ones you fear and take all the ones you hate/Cook a hearty stew, flash a smile and fill their plates."

Flutterby was a diamond in the rough, representing a hopeful (albeit somewhat confused) dreamer. Scary Fragile sees that dreamer coming to terms with reality, learning the ropes of love and self-actualization, taking full command of her voice and arranging skills and using them to greater effect and advantage than ever before. Flutterby demonstrated that Butterfly Boucher had her brilliant moments, but with Scary Fragile, she has made an album both worthy and reflective of her brilliance.

Scary Fragile is not supposed to be released to the general public until June 2nd. But it's on iTunes now. Yes it is. Seriously, I am telling you, I have my iTunes Store open and it's on sale now and people have already reviewed it. The album is also available in physical form at her shows.

For more information: http://www.butterflyboucher.com/

Copyright © 2009 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Festival Is Coming!

Just a quick newsflash to inform you of this year's XPoNential Music Festival, the annual gathering hosted by WXPN on the beautiful Camden, New Jersey waterfront. You might have seen my blog about last year's event (and assuming I go this year, I will blog about it again, but I'll post a separate entry for each day to make it easier to read!). If you read even a fraction of that blog, you know that last year's fest was an amazing gathering of like-minded music lovers and many truly fine artists, and that it was all available for a low price.

This year's festival looks like another great one, although it will run for only three days instead of four. I'm pleased to report that One Note Ahead favorites Matt Duke, Andrew Lipke, and Gillian Grassie will be performing there (and Gillian's leaving the country for a year after that, so if you wanna see her....). But the lineup includes so many interesting, dynamic, and just plain fabulous artists that I can't even begin to tell you who I'm most excited to see.

Why not check out the lineup for yourself? http://xpn.org/music-artist/festival-2009/lineup

And the members-only internet presale is going on now! Tickets and three-day passes will become available to the general public eventually, but if you're an XPN member, you'll get a discount and loads of awesome members-only perks. So if you can spare the dough -- a big "if" these days, I know -- and believe in XPN's mission, please consider joining. If you don't become a member, this festival will still cost you less and give you more than a lot of other summer music festivals! Because XPN's just cool like that.

Maybe I'll see you there?

[May 28th, 2009 update: Tickets and passes are available to the general public now. A three-day pass is just 40 bucks if you're not a member and 30 bucks if you are! These prices are available only through July 10th. You can get single-day tickets as well. Go here for details.]

Copyright © 2009 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.