Along with working as a freelance musician in Nashville, TN, banjoist Charles Butler is a skilled composer. Centered around exciting and progressive ideas, Butler’s newest release, Duck’s Eye, is a glimpse into that aspect of his artistry.
All nine tunes are original pieces by Butler with varying configurations of musicians backing him. The opening track, Bellfeather, has a wonderful sense of rhythm and groove. Along with Butler on banjo, this track also includes AJ Fox on mandolin, Geoff Henderson on bass, and Jake Studer on guitar.
The title track, Duck’s Eye, not only captures Charles’ ability on the banjo, but also on the dobro, on which he has wonderful skill. Accompanying Butler on this tune is Billy Contreras on fiddle, Jeremy Holt on mandolin, Will MacLean on guitar, and Charles Pate on bass.
Jubilation Lee is one of the strongest compositions on this project. Not only does it have a catchy melody, but the transitions into each instrumental solo are very inventive. AJ Fox’s performance on this track particularly stands out. Other musicians include Brandon Bierkedahl on bass and Frank Rische on guitar.
Eucalyptus is the sole track that doesn’t feature a full band. With just Charles on banjo, this smooth yet haunting piece is one of the true highlights of this project.
The closing track, The Detroit Lean, again features Butler on both banjo and dobro, as well as AJ Fox on mandolin and Geoff Henderson on bass. It’s one of the more subtle pieces in terms of its melodic content, but nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable tune.
Duck’s Eye zeroes in on Butler’s abilities as an instrumental composer. This recording will especially appeal to those who enjoy ideas that don’t neatly fit into a box. It’s a project full of creativity and exploration.