Exclusive Contest: O&AN is giving away five autographed copies of Reuben Butchart’s album Golden Boy. To enter to win a copy of the album send your name and mailing address to [email protected] with the word “Golden” in the subject heading. Winners will be drawn at random from all entries. Deadline for entry is April 15.
In a city packed with the hustle and bustle the size of New York City, gay boys who play the piano and sing plaintive songs of love and loss of former lovers are a dime a dozen. Any pretty queen with a little talent at the piano these days think they have what it takes to be the next uninteresting gay rip-off of Tori Amos giving it hard to Rufus Wainwright from behind just as he gets out of rehab.
This sad, but all-too true fact is exactly the reason the soulful talent of Brooklyn resident Reuben Butchart (say Boo-shart) is such a find. Butchart’s attention to the detail of his craft is evident in the quality and diversity of his work. Refusing to fall into the trap of being one of the archetypical sulky, pouty-lipped gay “bois” who so often take the stages of whatever establishments are desperate enough to require their sad, pitiful performances that pass for “artsy”. Butchart instead aims for the top in quality of sound, performance and evolution of sound has thus far come out golden.
Butchart made his recording debut with the critically acclaimed and all-but-solo Dusk which found him digging around deep into the archaeological mineshafts of classic R&B like Donnie Hathaway and mixing it with funky electronic beats and looped synths that was guaranteed to put the groove in your move. The main thing was that Butchart was doing the work mostly on his own. This time out of the gate, Butchart has assembled a band to allow his sound to grow and morph into something completely different than before, but distinct in its origins.
“It wasn’t hard at all to give over control to someone else,” Butchart explained from his Brooklyn home during a phone interview with O&AN. “The collaboration is amazing and we are able to do so much more together than I was able to alone with a drum machine and synthesizers. Besides, I don’t feel like I’ve relinquished control because I really get to be the boss.”
Ever the ecclecticist, Butchart followed his muse where it led and the result is not surprisingly fascinating. Still mining the reserves of classic R&B, with Golden Boy the sound is now drawn up into a tight ball of contemporary funk, 70’s soul and just enough of the R&B of the 60’s to qualify this album as certified “Love Makin’ Music”—as one Mr. White once wisely spoke—and dipping it all in a sweet and sassy Motown coating that makes the sound of the listener thirsty for more. The sounds mix and flow together with each other like a well oiled machine of smartly textured arrangements and practiced rhythm. Starkly different as the albums are, the common glue that holds the package together and indelibly marks both as Butchart’s work is the golden vocals and platinum songcraft that permeates both to the core.
Butchart seems to imply with his emotional string pulls and orchestral post-pop leanings that music—and perhaps even life itself—is all about light, illumination and introspection to find out about yourself and look where you are going by looking back where you’ve been.
“The first album was kind of about making noise,” Butchart says with some irony in his voice, “I was just getting a feel for pop music and the direction I wanted to follow. I wanted to reflect the kind of craziness in my life. Golden Boy is more introspective. It invokes the old days and old times. I’m from California so there are also associations to the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park and the way things once were. I was always the golden boy growing up in my family and there are elements of that present there as well.”
From the first strokes of the piano leading into the gently swaying singsong tug of the opening track “Come & Play” to the final resonating note of “Trust Me” closing the album Butchart has managed to craft a work of subtle intensity that comes at the listener not in waves, but in even tides that wash over the listener slowly drawing them into his gilded voice’s warm, glowing embrace.