Pop Goes the Acoustic

Acoustic Pop

Butch Rice (ear X-tacy)

By Tim Roberts

Do not believe the doomsayers for one more moment, the cynical, smarmy ones who snort at the audio tapioca that passes for today's pop music. It is no matter that you can fit those songs into the "need your love,""take my love,""our love will last" or "mess with my love and I'll nail your lips to the floor" categories. Eventually love grows up, as does music. There are honest, mature pop songs available with lyrics strengthened with true emotions, sung with a richness that flows like warm silver under your skin.

You'll find a baker's dozen of such tender mercies in Acoustic Pop from Louisvillian Butch Rice.

Performed only with solo acoustic guitar, the tracks on Acoustic Pop are genuine love songs. Genuine in that they are about love and all its uncertainty, passion, joy, paradox, and pain, without all the nauseating simplicity.

For example, "Selfish Me (Leave the Light on for Me)," the second track about someone still selfishly in love with another, twists a small knot in the cliché about keeping a love alive. The chorus states, "And leave the light on for me / And I'll find my way home to you . . . / And this time I'll stay away from you."

Regardless of the type of love he sings about, each song comes across with authentic feeling that Butch emotes with a voice that sounds as if it's burnished with mahogany.

The genius of Acoustic Pop, of Butch Rice's songwriting overall, is that any one of the songs could easily transfer into a big hit for any pop superstar. Once you experience every track, you can then imagine Backstreet Boy Kevin (the Lexington native) crooning "U Don't Know" to an audience of squealing, flutterhearted teenaged girls. It would take weeks to mop up the arena floor.

When that happens, the songs will probably lose the intimacy you can enjoy right now. Which means that Acoustic Pop is not the kind of recording you simply listen to. You languish in it.