Cameron Butler is one of the first artists I ever wrote about. I have since fallen off from covering him for no real reason other than feeling some ill-conceived pressure to post those that frequent my inbox. And while I love finding new people through submissions, I resent that they take me away from covering those I found organically.
But I felt a need to break my Butler hiatus after reading SUEDED’s review of Out The Ashes. It is a masterfully written summation of the album with beautiful lines like “In true Butler fashion, he says a lot without having to say much at all–cloaking every hard-to-swallow lesson and experience in the essence of being relatable; like disguising a bitter pill in a swig of juice.” That said, I took issue with one line in the article: “[Butler’s] creativity has reached a level of maturation that places him near his pinnacle of success.”
I acknowledge that this was intended as a compliment, but I wholeheartedly refute the claim that Butler is anywhere near his pinnacle. If you look back at his first big release, Bootleg, you’ll see what I mean. Don’t get me wrong, I love that project, but it doesn’t hold a flame to Out The Ashes. What were once quirky beats have evolved into a unique, formidable production style. His inaccessible, intellectual lyrics have been reborn, just as intelligent but now presented with increased clarity. All this growth in just two years.
Again, I know I am looking too deep into a single phrase, one which was meant to convey the very growth I have acknowledged here. And I agree that this is a coming-of-age project, but coming of age and hitting your prime are often separated by years if not decades. So, this is just to say that, while Butler is certainly outshining his former self, I expect this self to soon be dwarfed by successive selves.
As for the actual album analysis, I defer to SUEDED as I most sincerely love all else they had to say about Out The Ashes.