Friday, February 14, 2014

Jim Roll: The Continuing Adventures of the Butterfly Kid

For the last decade or more, Jim Roll's been to the side, behind the scenes. He's always at the edge of the spotlight, the dude at the boards mixing and remixing, producing the works of several of the most prominent players and bands on the Michigan scene. 

It's never been about him. 

But, really, he's like the cog of a grand wheel... each spoke a band or an album. 
That's part of what makes The Continuing Adventures of the Butterfly Kid so special. Another part would be how long we've waited for this... There's contributions from Frontier Ruckus' Matthew Milia, Great Lakes Myth Society's Jamie Monger, along with Carol Gray from Misty Lyn & The Big Beautiful... Hey, Misty Lyn, herself, is on here too. There's also Ryan Howard and Scott DeRoche, who perform with Roll in Drunken Barn Dance. These cameos are from singers, songwriters and musicians who know, first hand, about Roll's talent, a talent that's just as big as the dude's heart. We could go on... How he puts a lot of heart into his work and all that...but you probably want to hear some music...

The sound is inevitably colorful - a venn diagram of sensibilities gravitating twangy pop, experimental rock and a lo-fi Americana-strut into its decorous atmosphere. Why do I want to name-drop Yo La Tengo, or something similar? There's a pure pop sound in there, something almost college-rock-ish, but curtained with hazy synths and skewed with those spacey guitar vibratos. 

If I could pick a winner - it'd be "For You." Mid-tempo, sure; not so much a ballad, yeah. But beautiful. Those cellos under twangy guitars, a haunting mystique aching to soundtrack some starry-sky lit night-drive down the endless two-lane route toward restful rumination. It's exemplary of his careful balance of a considerable amount of instrumental elements. 

Roll exhibits an outstanding range in his voice... not so much in register, but in inflection. He can go into a weathered, wise, crooner and then revert back to the youthful yowl of an exuberant, 20-something skater psyched-for-life. He's waving around that baritone register for most of his delivery - fitting since he's best suited behind a bass guitar. 


It's about time it came out.
And, this time... it's about Jim! 

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