The John Butler Trio's U.S. debut album, Sunrise Over Sea, is phenomenal -- from the opening notes of "Treat Yo Mama," a muscular and soulfully expressive roots rocker, to the final strains of the expansive, ten-minute-long opus "Sometimes." The John Butler Trio is arguably the best musical group Australia has to offer in 2005, and Butler's superb, bluesy riffs and innovative melodies are only part of the JBT musical equation. The sturdy rhythm section of Shannon Birchall (on bass) and Michael Barker (on drums) gives added life to hit contenders like the powerful "Company Sin" and the buoyant, breezy "Better Man." If the mid-album blues vignette "Damned to Hell" seems an ill fit at first, its lo-fi, banjo-strummed presentation shifts effortlessly into the warm, heartfelt "Hello." On occasion, as with the uplifting acoustic number "Peaches & Cream," Butler's voice recalls the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis, but Butler and his bandmembers are without question on their own trip. And one only needs to hear the magical love song "Seeing Angels" to feel the trio's transcendental power.~John D. Luerssen
John Butler Trio - "Sunrise Over The Sea"