Written by Alice Juster on 27th May, 2012
Tin Shed Tales is the newest solo album released by Australian music icon, John Butler. In March and April 2012, John Butler embarked on a nationwide Tin Shed Tales tour, in a series of intimate performances in a ‘tin shed’ setting. The idea of the solo tour was inspired by an impromptu acoustic show for 300 Perth fans late last year. From this surprise concert in December, the concept of the Tin Shed Tales tour bloomed, hence the release of the live album with the same name.
The album is a compilation of the best songs, recorded live from the first five shows of the tour. The list includes a selection of classics from the John Butler archive, including, Better Than, Pickapart, Revolution and Losing You, plus many more, as well as new music and an array of personal and intriguing anecdotes.
Tin Shed Tales is a beautiful new insight into a long, live John Butler history, and in its simple, raw and intimate acoustic setting, the music is captured exquisitely. For those who have followed the colourful career of John Butler, this live album will feel like home. For those of you who are new to the John Butler revolution, welcome to your musical education. If you are not familiar with John’s profound political views and overwhelming passion for this country, Tin Shed Tales will be a visionary look into his heart-warming, wise character. The album opens with an acknowledgement from John to the “Traditional custodians of this land”.
John converses with the audience as though he is sitting in a room with close friends. He is witty, intelligent and funny. He confesses to being a “habitual smart arse” and has “all of the excuses for being a foolish bastard”. He admits having a self-diagnosed mental illness: “grass is greener syndrome”, and the song Better Than is based around this theory.
We are treated to a nine-and-a half minute Pickapart Jam, which sees John do his best finger-picking guitar artistry. Anyone who has seen this song played live would know how mesmerising it is, and it sounds just as complicatedly genius on the live CD. This song is where he thrills listeners by his unique brilliance.
Revolution brought tears to my eyes and my body covered in goosebumps from the beauty of this song. I was left speechless, just to enjoy the moment of hearing this version of the song for the first time.
John delivers a new song, Kimberly – a beautiful story about the hardship on the environment from ‘Cowboys’ and the history behind the lyrics, “I am what I am and I am strong, cos I got my land and I got my song”.
Tin Shed Tales is a musical journey and education into self awareness. John has a great way of making complex problems seem insignificant or completely transparent. He is self-critical and honest, and his music is empowering. The album ends with a nearly 13-minute track, Ocean, which John describes as “never finished”.
The album features an array of instruments, including the banjos and a harmonica, along with spine-tingling vocals from an Australian musical legend in an incredibly raw and mellow experience.
Everything about this live CD is stripped back to basics, and it delivers nothing more than exactly what it is: John Butler magic.
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