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April 2001

Jonathan Butler
The Source
N-Coded Music

Always a reflective, sensitive presence on both guitar and vocals, Jonathan Butler turns in a mellow, uplifting collection with The Source. The South African-born composer utilizes both his instruments to maximum effect here, crafting beguiling rhythms and textures on guitar, and stretching tender tenor vocals to emotional peaks, without melodrama. Butler's lyrics are heart-laid-bare personal, and for the most part supported by equally evocative arrangements. "Love Doesn't Matter Now," for example, offers sad guitar touches in the mode of Sting's "Fragile," adding depth to lyrics, "I've been snowed on/rained on/blown over by the wind." Butler's vocal presence can also lift a frillier arrangement like "Anniversary" to a place where only the sentiment matters. Sample lyric: "Far from all the struggling years/the laughter shared, the lonely tears/Maybe now we're standing on the edge/of a blessing yet to be." Equally profound are instrumental statements made through the quiet swagger and deep-toned refrain of "Lake Vibes," and gospel-African hybrid grooves of "Won't Stop for Nothing." "Shine a Light" even boasts a bit of womping Stevie Wonder soul vibe, reinforcing the undercurrent of optimism that continues as Butler's hallmark.

Originally published in April 2001
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