New Music Review: Will Butler’s Policy

Will Butler has been a member of Arcade Fire for over 10 years and on March 10 will release his first solo record. Policy was recorded in just one week in Jimi Hendrix’s former living room (upstairs at Electric Lady Studios in New York) and Will played most of the instruments himself. He did get a bit of help on woodwinds and backing vocals by Jeremy Gara and a few assorted others.  Although not exactly what I was hoping for, the results are definitely worth listening to.

When “Take My Side” was released as a single, I fell in love. The song is fantastic! It has a rootsy Jack White feel about it. The excellence of this song tricked me into thinking the whole album would be like that. I wanted the album to sound like Nashville in the same way that “Take My Side” does. Instead, I am left trying to find a connection between eight songs that sound like eight different people wrote them. Since Arcade Fire are famously purveyors of concept albums, this came as a surprise to me.  Butler’s “Anna” is brought to life by keyboards and woodwinds, while “What I Want” is all about guitar and vocals. Both songs have a fun sense of spontaneity that nods to days of Arcade Fires past but leave me wondering what Policy is all about. Although releasing eight songs that sound the same is hardly preferable, there exists a sweet spot between monotony and multeity that Butler just couldn’t seem to locate.

Maybe he could have pushed harder or maybe my hopes were just too high – that much is still unclear. I am hoping seeing it live will reignite my excitement about this record. Will Butler will be playing for a sold out crowd at The Horseshoe Tavern on March 27.




Hilary Johnston
Hilary Johnston is a writer, event manager and musician from Toronto.
Hilary Johnston