ARIA Awards 2001 Winner - Best Independent Release Touted as a mix of Ben Harper, an undiscovered bent Australian folkster and the younger musical brother of Eddie Vedder, John Butler emerged at the turn-of-the-century as a nouveau troubadour with a formidable take on the blues. He and his Trio have been making albums since 1996, but 2001's Three is the one which pushed them over the edge into the world of widespread acclaim. Call it what you will (organic rock, blues-twisted folk, eclectic yet focussed), the John Butler Trio's Three is - all tags aside - nothing short of brilliant.
This debut album by Australian John Butler's energetic jam-band phenom sold platinum in their native country and spawned numerous stateside club gigs as well as an opening slot for the Dave Matthews Band. Fueled by Butler's distinctive, earthy slide and finger-picked guitar, and vocals that recall Matthews at his most urgent, the trio (Rory Quirk on bass and Jason McGann on drum round out the outfit) breathes some welcome fire into the jam-band formula on the 10 cuts here. Butler's gritty muse is by turns Delta savvy and Outback exotic (with the haunting, ringing tones of his open-tuned fretwork occasionally seasoned by didgeridoo), often building into powerful soundquakes that stand the hippie-blues ethos of the genre firmly on its head. Butler's forceful guitar tones underscore his romantic dedication ("Betterman"), commitment to antiviolence ("Attitude"), environmental concerns ("Earthbound Child"), and general outrage at the modern world ("Money," "Media") with equal fervor, building a compelling argument that one of the most powerful forces in rock remains a world-wise guitarist with talent in his fingers and fire in his belly. - Jerry McCulley
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