Artist Feature: Liberty Butterworth

‘Delivering infectious rhythmicality and honey-sweet lyricism, these tracks make you want more of Liberty’s music.’

Intro to Liberty Butterworth
Writing her first tracks at the age of 16, Cambridge based singer-songwriter Liberty Butterworth certainly set out on her music career early. However, while they may have been written when she was at school, when combined to form her 2019 EP ‘Who We Are’, they offered so much promise. Sure it was a different point in her life, something she reflects on honestly in her artist interview, but discovering them now you can tell there was a real musicality there. This year though, Liberty has transformed her sound and in moving away from the acoustic sparseness, has released two beautiful tracks into the industry. With both singles – ‘Golden Days’ and ‘Another Day In Paradise’ gaining support from BBC Introducing Cambridge, as well as the former being placed in BBC Top 20 Introducing Hotlist, now is the perfect time to discover the perfectly contrasting musicality of Liberty Butterworth.
[Read more at: Behind the Music: Interview with Liberty Butterworth]

Music Review
Carrying strong summer vibes and a boatload of infectious rhythmicality, the opening moments of earlier release ‘Golden Days’ are ones that take you away from any troubles. Built around a mix of glistening guitar motifs that interlock among one another it shines irresistibly of musical brightness. Notably an entirely different atmosphere to the intimacy of that aforementioned EP, it feels like a lot has musically happened between that release and this one. Yes it’s completely joyous, but with Liberty introducing us to the hook-filled chorus in such a playful manner, it’s incredibly carefree too.

Moving through into the verse content, the nature of what the opening offered us remains, but with initially less momentum. Shifting instrumental focus, the percussive elements initially take a back seat allowing the true harmonic movement to accompany. Contrasting with the intricacy of the chorus motifs, here there are relaxed chord progressions. Sitting underneath the vocals how they do, they provide the most wonderful lilt-driven setting for lyricism filled with reminisce-edged phrases such as “I kinda like when you smile” and “I was just thinking about how much I miss your face”. Warmly inviting us in as we experience the combination, it’s an absolute delight.

Balancing softness and projection, the way in which Liberty delivers those lines ensurs there is a perfectly complementary sound in all areas. Equally, with vocal harmonies creating added warmth and lyrical emphasis,  the already gorgeous atmosphere is truly enhanced. However there is more behind what we are hearing than just the music.  Highlighting her involvement on the production side of her tracks, these harmonies also occur just as the mix of percussive beats and hand claps reappear. How easy it would be to push the vocal over the top, but securely knowing the direction of her own musicality, this stylistic decision is one that truly pays off.

Having fully established sound of track in these sections, as we transition through a set of verse-chorus alternations we continue to be served many musical treats. So many in fact that it becomes a showcase of vocal, instrumental and production centred prowess. Pouring into both our ears like honey, rather than having the lyricism centralised, panned duplication surrounds us with the sweetest vocal harmonies. Then as we progress further, these expand to delicately interweave among each other. Meanwhile, the accompaniment emulates the increasing playfulness. It’s actually all pretty clever. And thankfully for us, even when we pass through a brief, but equally delightful change of atmosphere ahead of the final chorus, this very much remains the case.  

Turning to Liberty’s latest track, with ‘Another Day in Paradise’ setting off in a much different direction to that of ‘Golden Days’, we experience a decrease in momentum but an upwards surge of musicality. Encouraging us to take a breath and relax, this time we have calmness and romanticism generated by a gloriously contrasting mix of down-tempo acoustic and electric guitar ideas. Gently strummed, the chords are set. Gently picked, the fragmented melodies work as one. Gently decorated, the passing note filled basslines are established. Gentle is most definitely the order of the day, and given that the track sees Liberty turn her “lockdown feelings into lyrics”it’s the collective comfort we require. 

Showcasing one of her musical traits – that of giving time and space within a track – with the introduction fully relaxing us, the initial lyrics really do creep up on us. Arriving as subtly as the instrumental elements, you may imagine there to be a lack of intention behind them. Even moreso given the greater vocal projection experienced in Liberty’s previous release. However, in opening with the drawn out phrase of “Get up, it’s another day in paradise”, you soon realise that this is to be a track that highlights how in so little, so much can be said. And said so beautifully.

Progressing through these early moments, while the surrounding musicality remains understated, appropriate momentum is brought about via touchingly played drums. Delicate in delivery, the beat keeping nature of them sits wonderfully among the nostalgia-tinted atmosphere that has been established. Yet even within the apparent softness, throughout the track there is real instrumental intention. Every splash cymbal infused fill fits within the context of the track. Each melodic motif is increasingly given a place to shine, while never overpowering or sounding out of place. And even the more effect-dressed atmospherics near the end feel perfectly in keeping too. Wonderfully for us though, this all carries through to the lyrical elements as well.

Centered around thoughts that we may have had during this strange time, vocal phrases continually connect in a way that feels personal. Forming the perfect recurring example, as you hear the phrase “Somewhere else is on your mind” at the start of each chorus, you can’t help but think of places you want to go to and people you want to see. Working in a likewise manner, each softly sung scenario –“fixate on every tiny detail” and “I’m watching the news as I fall asleep”feels increasingly relatable. These reactions though aren’t a result of luck, but a result of Liberty setting lyrics that depict “the dull routine, yet simple beauty of the everyday” in a way that’s completely gorgeous. And therefore, with the track fading like a musical wander into the sunset, we are left wondering what else is on the horizon for Liberty Butterworth. My guess is yet more truly special musicality.

Find out more about Liberty Butterworth at:
Behind the Music: Interview with Liberty Butterworth

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