This epic concept album is part horror story and part folk opera and is wholly compelling from start to finish
The Butcher begins with A Lighthouse. Set to a gentle folk track there’s a voice which can’t be found and eventually a light is extinguished. So begins Paul Mosley’s folk opera. The tale darkens on Soul To Save as Mosley’s protagonist sings, “There used to be a lighthouse here / I took care of that” and a life is lost over a jumpy arrangement. Thus a nightmare is born, one who makes his entrance proper on the bold title-track, announcing “I am The Butcher / Spend my days knuckle-deep in blood.”
Mosley is more than happy for his supporting cast to take the limelight. The World Is Flat is a gorgeous duet between Jamie Lawson and Esther Dee (Mediaeval Baebes) and throughout the record they provide the counterpoint to Mosley’s butcher. Their search for hope continues on Shadows On The Wall and Galaxies, with Dee promising to “bring the light” on the latter. Elsewhere, No Hound Dog On Your Trail On Your Trail is a subtle showcase for Catherine Earnshaw’s ethereal vocals and Wolves is all the evidence you’ll need as to why Rough Trade have recently signed Josienne Clarke.
Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown is listed as an inspiration and comparisons could also be made with The Decemberists’ The Hazard Of Love. Characters recur to haunt the record from start to finish and the suspense builds due to the detailed instrumentation. By the time The Fury brings the saga to its end, you have become completely immersed in Mosley’s world. The Butcher is a sprawling concept album which will need many more listens to fully reveal itself, but what is immediately apparent is that Mosley should be commended for his ambition, clever arrangements and dazzling storytelling.
Verdict: Intricate storytelling with arrangements to match