Cam Butler ~ Find Your Love

Find Your Love is the most heroic-sounding album I’ve heard all year.  Cam Butler‘s music conjures images of frontiersmen and explorers venturing into the great unknown, six-guns at their sides, ready to fight hordes of enemies on their way to unknown territories.  One can hear intimations of mountains, chasms, stampedes and trains.  My visceral connection is to Dmitri Tiomkin’s 1956 score to Giant, which my father owned as a set of four boxed 45s.  Comparison can be made from the settlers of the old west to those of the Outback, from Native Americans to Aborigines.  Yet while there’s no sense of apology in this Australian composer’s music (for that, see The Doomed Bird of Providence), none is needed.  The music is a throwback to a time of wonder, the eyes of children widening as their heroes ride into town, ready to battle injustice no matter the odds.

The first two tracks offer a swift shot of adrenaline.  The title track (also available in a radio edit) is anchored by Butler’s electric guitar, but the punctuations come from a 14-piece string orchestra and backing band.  The late 20th century associations are cemented when the tambourine arrives: one century seen through the eyes of a second and scored through the lens of a third.  The sound seems even more immediate than it did on 2012’s Save My Soul, which featured a slightly larger (23-piece) orchestra.  The entry of the guitar on “Have Mercy” seems like the return of an old friend, while the cacophonous breakdown alerts us to the fact that it’s not all sweetness and light.  This foreshadowing finds its culmination in the album’s center, as the pace slows to allow rumination and sorrow.  Some will fall along the way, mourned by the tribal beat of “The Survivors”.  What comes next?  People get up.  They bury their dead.  They speak a few words, and they go on.  One can hear the shift midway through “Together Again”.  Feed the horse.  Lift the hat.  Take the reins.

As expected, the major themes return at the end of “Finding It”.  Yet their form is unexpected: muted in volume, like a memory of a jukebox from the early 1970s.  Fender Rhodes always has this effect.  When Butler exercises such shifts, one realizes that the album could only have been made today.  He gives us a type of music that we thought lost, updates it in a manner that draws our admiration, and reminds us of our ideals.  In the final track, he asks, “Will We Survive?”, but there’s never any doubt, because his music says yes.  Once there were heroes.  There can be heroes again.  (Richard Allen)

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