Jonathan Butler’s new album, ‘Close To You’, is an 11 song collection featuring reinterpretations of 60’s & 70’s classics from Burt Bacharach. Covers include, “Walk On By”, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”, “This Guy’s In Love With You”, “The Look of Love” and the timely single, “What The World Needs Now Is Love”. Also featured are instrumental versions of “I Say A Little Prayer” and “Do You Know The Way To San Jose.” One original composition, the autobiographical “Cape Town” is also included.

The connection between Jonathan Butler and Burt Bacharach actually stems back to his childhood in South Africa. He was 12 years of age when recorded Bacharach’s “Please Stay“, which was originally recorded by The Drifters in 1961.

Following several monumental decades of moving from South Africa to America, building a worldwide audience for his music while also raising his children to adulthood, Jonathan Butler arrived at a crossroads in his marriage which ended in divorce.

“I realized then this was not the season to write about me or my relationship,” Butler shares. “It was a season for me to listen to what is in the atmosphere. The music of Burt Bacharach is what I was hearing. The next day I called my manager and told him I wanted to do a Bacharach songbook album and reinvent myself in the process. I am honored to become a student of this music. To recognize the precious, golden ‘origin era’ of great songwriting. I did my homework then sprinkled South African spice on top with my chanting and rhythmic approach to playing the guitar. This is music I could really dig into.”

The highlights of Close To You are bountiful, beginning with the title track that features the touching violin introduction of Nadira Kimberly (Hidden Figures, The Voice). There is “A House Is Not A Home” which Butler sings solely to guitar/bass accompaniment – “a lyric I just felt I needed to pay attention to.” Then there is the existential musing, “Alfie.” “I had to reach a level of maturity to sing this one,” he states. “The lyric is so profound. At the start, I am having a chat with the listener. Then at the end where it says, ‘Without love, we just exist’…what a revelation! We all have many things to sort out in life but this is said in such a beautiful way. ‘When you walk, let your heart lead the way / Then you’ll find love any day.’”

The most poignant cover, “What The World Needs Now Is Love” is intended to be as impactful today as it was when it was initially recorded in 1965.

“People are ready to go to a higher place. At my concerts, I’ve seen them standing together, holding hands. Starting with me, I hope this song will start a new love
movement.” Reflecting upon his roots in poverty and apartheid in Cape Town, Butler adds, “What I am seeing today in America truly hurts my heart. I know what it is to see a ‘whites only’ sign. There are three things that are important for a Black man to know: Who you are; Where you are, and; When you speak, be bold, loud enough for everybody to hear. Many people that come to my concerts, I can see, are still conflicted. When I am among them, I am very open and real. I tell them my story.”

Check it out and let us know what you think!

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