"Butterfly" by Euan Blackman

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"Butterfly" by Euan Blackman

Review

Following the well received  ‘Rent Free On My Brain' EP (his second after debut ‘You Are The Rain'), today Euan Blackman starts letting us hear number three, ‘Thunderstorms' (scheduled for this summer) by releasing lead single "Butterfly".

It's not "all change" with Euan, but there are substantial, multiple & significant ones: notably his move away from doing absolutely everything himself. This one comes out on Ripe Records & has been made with the collaboration of producer and mix engineer Tarek Musa.

Equally, for the first time, the single has reasonably discernible artwork (he's pretty shadowed to be sure but it's a definite move away from the deliberate lo-fi blurs of his previous releases). I'd love to report some sort of link between the shift in visuals & the music: but I can't find one. His work always had the clarity of definition belied by the covers so I imagine that it's an emphasis of the new chapter in his work.

Equally it would be glib to suggest that Euan has moved away from the DIY ethic into a more commercial direction with a professional producer & record label, only that isn't evident.

The facts as evidenced by "Butterfly" seem to be that he's retained his independent mission & values but brought another set of perspectives onboard & will be working through a platform to enable more people hear his music. If you're looking for an artistic sell-out, you won't find one here. Keep moving please.

The way he himself seeks to articulate any change in direction is framed in terms of creative ambition: in his own words "Butterfly is about accepting your flaws as an individual. I love songwriting that seems upbeat, but lyrically comes from a much darker place. I feel I've taken my sensibilities as a folk-storytelling-songwriter and placed it into a whole new indie/alternative world with this EP project. Everything is much more ambitious sounding. I'm on a sonic path that I'm excited to continue to grow and develop."

The song itself certainly lies at the upbeat pop end of his spectrum, but that's not inconsistent with his previous work to any great extent: he's brought his trademark wispy vocal sitting back in the mix into the new paradigm so there's plenty of continuity there. Equally he persists with not adding instruments to the arrangement beyond what he feels is necessary to the song. The instruments (the usual imaginative blend of acoustic guitars & electronica) are portrayed brighter by Tarek than he tended to himself, but the dichotomy of the chirpy music bearing the burden of more introspective words certainly holds true: it creates effective tensions and works well. The words aren't particularly gloomy as such: they seem to be the product of intense self-scrutiny and reproach as he beats himself up/apologises for a perceived lack of personal commitment.

I think that the complete control philosophy of his career to date coupled with this prevailing inward facing emotional perspective has worked well in establishing Euan's unique creative identity. However I'd venture a guess that it must get psychically exhausting at times & so letting someone else in must allow for both a sounding board and pillar of support: clearly he's found one who gets his muse and can help him realise it without loss of that USP. I'd also think that collaboration in this manner will aid the sustainability of what he's trying to do, while possibly giving it a nudge towards greater audience reach & commercial success.

I've never considered him a solipsist: he's an artist who knows himself very well, but not to the exclusion of considering others but perhaps "Butterfly" makes this a bit more explicit which is helpful. At any rate, you can feel his gaze turning outwards in this single. May it & the rest of ‘Thunderstorms' add greatly to his already growing fanbase.

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