By Kelly McCartney
Photos by Heidi Ross
[W]hen Butterfly Boucher released her solo debut, Flutterby, in 2004, jaws dropped and critics raved. It was a stunningly impressive debut made all the more so by the fact that Boucher played everything on the record except cello and drums. Ten years on, Boucher has revisited and re-imagined her debut, via a PledgeMusic campaign, to create Happy Birthday Flutterby. But, this time, she called in some very talented friends to help with the heavy lifting. “I sent out an email to all my friends that I was hoping could be a part of it,” Boucher said. “I was so nervous sending that email out because I’m not very good at asking for help. And the whole idea of this project was hinging on if my friends could do it…and for free.” They could and they did. Sarah McLachlan, Sara Bareilles, Katie Herzig and others heeded the call and offered their services.
Although it would have been fascinating to hear Boucher rework Flutterby on her own, letting other voices and hands render these songs was crucial to Happy Birthday Flutterby’s identity as a stand-alone project. That collaborative spirit also breathes a fresh, new life into an album that is, ten years later, still very much alive. So, why do it at all? “The biggest reason,” Boucher said, “was that I wanted to celebrate the tenth anniversary somehow…I just had this moment of gratitude. It was such a special album to me; I just wanted to acknowledge it ten years on.” And like so many great cultural zeitgeists, a re-boot was in order. Hollywood does it all the time…why not Nashville? “I should’ve recorded this album and had an American accent the whole time,” Boucher, a native Australian, joked. “I’ll do it for the 20th anniversary. For the 30th, I can do French.”
Australian accent and all, Happy Birthday Flutterby doesn’t try to recapture the free-flowing spirit of the original. Instead, it is content to find its own, somehow even more solid footing in the here and now. Still, it’s hard for Boucher not to reminiscence about the old days: “I was always so proud of that record. The making of it was magical. It just hit me at this time when I was so excited to be doing my solo thing because I’d been in a band for years. I was just full of hope. I actually had some sad songs, at the time, but I purposely didn’t use them on Flutterby because I really wanted it to capture the moment I was doing it; I was really joyful and really hopeful. I wanted it to be an honest record, but not bring anybody down too far.”
No worries there. Both Flutterby and Happy Birthday Flutterby are buoys for their listeners, if not their creator. Honoring this historical moment in her own career has not just lifted Boucher up, it has also led Boucher to contemplate what might be next for her. “You know when you watch a documentary about someone who has gone on to have amazing success and inspire all these people? It’s like, generally, in every documentary, they get to their 30s and whatever they were doing wasn’t really working. And then that next thing they do—and it might be different to what they’d done all their life—there’s this turning point and everything goes stupendously well.” She lauged, “I’m hoping that that’s where I’m at.”