CDs & DVDsReview

CD REVIEW: Norbert Leo Butz – Girls, Girls, Girls

Reviewer: Holly Spanner

Girls, Girls, Girls is considerably deeper than the title suggests. Perhaps this is the point, but there’s no denying it gets straight to the heart of the material. Originally conceived for a concert in 2013, the subject matter is reflective of Butz’s quest to better understand the women in his life, and with three daughters, a wife, ex-wife and three sisters, this is no mean feat. Quite understandably then, he has engaged in a significant research effort in delving into the human psyche. Focusing his research on classic female archetypes, in this case, Greek Goddesses and Jungian archetypes, each song on the album is dedicated to a different deity.

Two-time Tony Award Winner for roles in Broadway’s Catch Me If You Can and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Butz is currently starring in the Netflix Original, Bloodline. His respect for women extends to the small screen, where Butz’s principles have encouraged him to speak out against portraying any character who commits violence towards women.

Never one to fall back to the traditional back catalogue of Broadway hits, Butz opts for an eclectic mix of genres, with songs by Elvis Costello, Frank Sinatra, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash and Ray LaMontagne. The album features Rock n’ Roll classics, including Jolene and Come on Eileen, as well as power pop Grammy nominated Stacey’s Mom. Ideas of a deep-rooted female consciousness, is balanced by musings of gender fluidity through Wig in a Box, from the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

The Goddess Demeter, Sister of Zeus, is honored by Martha. One of the most powerful stories in all the myths, it tells of enslavement, rape and the inseparable bond between mother and daughter. The beautiful Tecumseh Valley represents the tragic story of Persephone, daughter of Demeter, who does whatever she can just to get by.

A huge amount of research, time and effort has gone into this selection of songs. And through it all, Butz’s vocals are emotive and reflective, even gritty at times, making the most of his huge range (although Come on Eileen was dropped by a key and a half).

As well as the Greek Deities, Butz looks to Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung and his ideas that universal psychic structures underlie all human experience and behavior. Galway to Graceland is dedicated to the third of Jungian archetypes, the Crone. Butz argues she is the most dangerous in society as she represents mortality, and with her, the future that each of us must eventually face.

Girls, Girls, Girls is deliciously feminist, respectful and empowering for women. Recorded Live at 54 Below, the album is witty and intellectual, as well as being very personal. Butz considers himself to be a progressive champion of women, and this comes across in this recording. A fantastic collection of songs, each in his own unique style with infusions of soft rock, country, big ballads, rockabilly, Broadway and just a hint of smooth jazz, fans (and newcomers)  will not be disappointed.

Girls, Girls, Girls is available to purchase from Broadway Records

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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