Cam Butler: Find Your Love
Cam Butler

Cam Butler's music has never sound bigger than it does on Find Your Love—literally. That's because the new album not only features guitars (Butler), keyboards (acoustic pianists Robin Casinader and Julitha Ryan, organist Tim Deane, and Fender Rhodes player Kiernan Box), bass (Andy Papadopoulos), and drums (Mark Dawson) but also a fourteen-piece string section, a move that ostensibly turns the eight-song release into a bona fide orchestral album. Though overdubbing was used to conjoin the orchestral forces to the basic band tracks, the music exudes a live feel, not to mention a visceral punch. The combination of strings, electric guitar, and a hard-rocking rhythm section generates a powerful forcefield rich in drama and emotion.

Fans of the Melbourne-based artist's electric guitar playing needn't worry; it's again the major lead element, even if the sounds accompanying it are in plentiful supply; “Together [Again],” for example, opens with an extended unaccompanied guitar episode that allows the inimitable sensitivity of his touch to be heard in all its glory. He's got one of those delicious, tremolo-laden styles that's capable of evoking an entire history of guitar playing in a single gesture. Everyone naturally brings different associations to what they hear; as I listen to Find Your Love, names such as Chris Spedding, Link Wray, John Barry, and Ennio Morricone come to mind.

The album swings royally into position with the soulful title cut, a hard-grooving jam sweetened with electric piano and Butler's signature twang. The arrangement takes flight a minute into the track when the strings surface, but it's the heat generated by the band with the orchestral resources that recommends the song most. Add a bit of organ and some ‘60s-styled tambourine to the mix and you've got as splendid a scene-setter as they come.

Butler offsets the widescreen extroversion of cuts like “Find Your Love” and “Will We Survive?” with a handful pitched at a quieter level, though they're no less dynamic for being so. In such cases, his guitar sound moves even more to the forefront in not only voicing the lead melodies but amplifying the total sound with atmospheric textures and rhythm playing. The album's orchestral vibe is reinforced when Arwen Johnston's timpani introduces “Finding It,” a brief re-imagining of the title cut, and a solo, vibrato-heavy violin emerges during the brooding “Together [Again] reprise.” Find Your Love has the feel of a pure analogue creation, with every exuberant moment captured live. In that regard, it harks back to the classic production style of the ‘60s without feeling dated or retrograde in doing so.

September 2017