James B: ‘Butterfly’ / Single Review
James B, a London-based song writer, guitarist and producer, has a very distinctive sound and a sure inclination for what I call good pop music. I won’t hide that I like his outspoken approach to the political nonsense we have been subjected to in the past three years and one of his tracks I like a lot is ‘Bad News’. In addition to his rock back-beats and Beatlesque infused chord changes and melodies, James B is VERY witty and funny.
Following the excellent, recently released ‘Reality TV Star’ in May 2019, the single I am about to review is not about his humorous take on the lunacies of the world we live in but rather about the love of his life. It’s a love song! The atmosphere of the song takes you back to the late 60s – early 70s, it is full of optimistic promise and celebrating a soul mate’s beautiful presence, unwavering support and freedom of spirit. Yes, James B is the kind of guy who actually loves the fact that his wife is a free spirit, and visibly has no desire to tie her down but instead gets inspired by her and finds a reason to get up in the morning thanks to her.
In terms of arrangement and production, the song starts off with a rich harmonic filler provided by a strummed, nicely “treated” acoustic guitar, soon opening on to a cruising feel with creamy, reverbed lead guitar licks reminiscent of summer fields of wild flowers over which hover fluttering butterflies. The bass line sometimes in quavers sometimes in minimalistic minims with a few tasty glissandos, adds to the classy feel and progressive introduction of other sexy distorted guitar lines, while an 80s sounding synth is punctuating the chorus with long-note melodic lines before leading an instrumental section that brings the song to a superb bridge with a rock feel.
Now James B, also wearing the producer hat, is having fun with that often under-used thing we call the stereo spectrum. Listen to that distorted riff panned from left to right and right to left, but travelling inside your head… A great choice that won’t go unnoticed as everyone listens to music almost exclusively on headphones these days.
It really is the kind of song you want to hear again as soon as it finishes. I would not be able to say if it is the topic, the feel, the tune, the guitar licks, the classy production or the fact that it not only celebrates love but also three decades of popular music styles and production. I dare you to listen to this track and not want to hit play again!
Written by Fabrizio Vincente