Rory Butler – Window Shopping

Album Review | Vertical Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Cameron Watts’ striking cover painting on Rory Butler’s debut album Window Shopping immediately suggests that a 12” vinyl version would be more suitable for the coffee table.  With thickly applied oils, our obsession with the ‘selfie’ becomes an instant theme, alluding to the album’s title, which has become a national pastime.  The immediate influence identified in these ten original songs is John Martyn, whose soulful vocal is almost imitated in places and the Edinburgh musician comes very close to the original as do the guitar runs, especially the wind up motif on “Simon Says”.  In a virtual John Martyn soundalike version of The Voice, all four mentors would slap their buttons simultaneously before the end of the opening chorus of “Lost and Found”. 

Finding originality is not our concern here, a homage can be a good thing, a lineage needs continuum and John Martyn is a good place for any musician to start.  Rory’s originality and personality comes through his ideas, of tackling the problems, fears and anxieties of the digital age, with social media being of chief concern, exemplified in such songs as “Mind Your Business” in which the songwriter claims to be “living online” and the poignant “That Side of the World”, written after witnessing the distressing teatime news images during the Syrian refugee crisis.  For all the Martyn similarities, there’s a huge talent at the midway junction to finding his own voice, which I predict will be explosive.   

Choice Track: Tell Yourself (NSV 505)