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Butch Ross Link:

Permanent Records

Butch Ross
Selected Works Of Friction
1999, Permanent Records

Selected Works Of Friction, Butch Ross’s debut recording, will grab you on first listen. It’s quirky, fun and lively. The songs are filled with catchy hooks and humorous lyrics.

Ross is a relative new comer to the music scene and has just begun to tour regionally (New York and New England). He grew up in western Pennsylvania and says, "I was in a bunch of bands—just as a guitar player—and was in this U2/Midnight Oil band when I started writing. I wrote a couple of tunes one of which was "Lover’s Leap." We moved to New Jersey and, like most bands, split up because we couldn’t get along. I became a "folk-singer" because I couldn’t bear to be in another band. I discovered that what is considered "folk" was the kind of music I had been writing all along. I was completely naive to the whole thing, so I bought a lot of compilations and stuff and discovered Patti Larkin, Jim Infantino, Ellis Paul, Ani DiFranco, David Wilcox, and Shawn Colvin, who was a huge influence.

Ross describes his music as "Heartland rock (with tongue firmly planted in cheek)." He says, "I always feel like when I’m telling the story, I’m painting the whole picture and not leaving enough to the imagination of the listener. Of course, I almost always get interpretations that are radically different from the ones I envisioned. I write songs about or influenced by stuff that happened to people I knew."

There’s a familiarity to Ross’s work. His stories deal with human nature and his characters glisten with unabashed reality. His songs are fresh and energetic. The opening track, "Trenton," was inspired by Ross’s stay in New Jersey for five and a half years. The picture he paints is not a happy one. "New York" [this is a link to an mp3 sample on Ross's web site] doesn’t paint a better one, describing the life of a "folkie" playing "yuppie bars in Soho and lesser joints on the East Side." "Joan’s Ark" was written to give hope to a young girl who was at the point in her life where she realized High School was not the best time of her life. "Spider and the Fly" was written three days before "New York," inspired after listening to Jules Shear’s "Jewel in a Cobweb" in a laundromat. Ross says, "it was the first song that made me feel that I had arrived as a ‘songwriter.’"

Ross finds the song writing process multifaceted. "Sometimes I pick at stuff for years and sometimes it happens so fast that I can’t remember writing it. Generally, the germ of the idea has to happen musically and lyrically at the same time. Sometimes it doesn’t ("Trenton" was lyrics first) and sometimes I will add lyrics to music I’ve had lying around forever. I’m happy to have found that the best songs aren’t necessarily the ones that comes quickly nor is it always the stuff that’s the most personal."

There are twelve Ross originals, plus a ghost track by Adam Brodsky (Ross says, "No, there is nothing wrong with your CD. He always sounds like that.) Ross’s songs have appeal. He’s bound for something good.—Sara Barss

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