Since his first, eponymous, album Queensland singer-songwriter Brad Butcher has set out to document the spectrum of human life – to borrow a song title from that album, the conversations and complications that comprise our day-to-day as we make and break connections, work through problems, face challenges and also find joy. In the process he has also laid himself bare to the listener, not so much documenting his existence as taking his experiences as a starting point to find connection with others. His fourth album was called Travelling Salesman but Travelling Storyteller more likely covers it – and, indeed, his 2022 compilation album was called Storyteller.
Butcher’s albums have followed his life and those of the people he has known – and thus we arrive at his latest, East of Everything. Now a father of young children, with a full life that includes a return to touring, and living ‘east of everything’ on the Queensland coast, East of Everything contains an expansive view of life and relationships, evidenced as much by the songs on it as Butcher’s decision to record several tracks with other artists: ‘Get a Grip’ with Diesel, ‘People Get Old’ with tour mates Busby Marou, ‘Out of Our Hands’ with Helen Shanahan and ‘Lay Your Head’ with Brielle Brown.
In sharing these songs with other artists there is a sense that Butcher knows his stories have never belonged solely to him, and in this way he’s also saying to the listener ‘you’re in this with me too’. On this album there is a lyrical and musical sense of Butcher throwing himself open – in life, in heart, in worldview – that encourages us all to look out, look around, and appreciate what we see, feel and experience.
The songs on East of Everything contain Butcher’s wry take on life (‘Cutting Peoples Grass’) as well as its counterpoint: sentiment without mawkishness (‘Other Plans’). And throughout we hear his deft way with melody as well as his ability to pierce the heart (‘A Little Luck’).
Most of all, we have his voice. Since his first album Butcher has been a singer who brings the listener close, so articulate that he could cut through a noisy background or reach someone who is not paying attention. He understands that his voice is how he communicates his stories, and it is here, on East of Everything, in all its subtlety and power.
In sum: East of Everything is a memorable, moving progression for Butcher that takes his existing listeners with him and will no doubt bring new fans to this singular storyteller.