An Oklahoma native with a voice to prove it, Kaitlin’s Butts is one of country music’s most exciting emerging songwriters.
Butts released their debut album, Same hell, different devil, in 2015. Since then, the singer-songwriter has continued to hone her craft, releasing a string of singles (including her most popular track to date, “Marfa Lights”) and a seven-track album, What else can she do.
Listening to Butts, one can hear hints of early Kacey Musgraves and the influence of country veteran Miranda Lambert. However, Butts clearly has something to add to the genre – her skills as a storyteller.
Butts pays special attention to the lives of women: not just the beauty queens and broken hearts that often populate country music, but the ordinary women who are just trying to get by and survive the ups and downs of the life.
“I don’t think life is that pretty sometimes,” Butts said, “and with that comes pain and going through tough times, or being stagnant, going through the motions and not knowing what to do. , or just being downright mad at everything life has thrown on your plate.”
This awareness appears in almost all of Butts’ music, and it’s what makes his records so compelling.
Keep reading to find out Kaitlin Butts’ 10 best songs from The Boot, so far:
Butts has an exceptional talent for writing realistic characters in his songs, and “She’s Using” is a shining example. At the start of the song, we meet a mother mourning a daughter while she is still alive. Butts sings”She walked through an open door that said welcome to all the lost souls / Mama said it’s like losing a child without the flowers or the pots.”
She artfully captures the realities of addiction but also makes room for recovery in this narrative. In a clever turn of phrase, Butts points us towards redemption: “She uses anyone who will hold her and help her get straight.”
“A Life Where We Work” with Flatland Calvary
“Humble People” (2016)
In 2016, Butts collaborated with band Lubbock Flatland Calvary for a bittersweet duet. On first listen, one could easily confuse “A Life Where We Work Out” with a simple love song: lines like “Our love is even hotter than a summer day in Texas / You still bite your lip when I look at you that wayare swapped. However, in a cruel twist of fate, it is revealed that this happiness belongs to an unlived sister’s life. With melancholy in his voice, Butts sings, “God knows I can’t keep losing sleep dreaming of a life where we train.“
The track’s title, “It Won’t Always Be Like This,” evokes a sense of hope that the bad times will pass. While that element exists in Butts’ song, she dares to make hope a little more complicated than that: for the character of Butts’ lyrics, “It won’t always be like this.” is a mantra that has kept her in an abusive relationship for far too long. Butts urges listeners to consider that hope is most powerful when paired with action.
For all of Butts’ complexity as a songwriter, she also finds room to savor the simplicity of a free spirit. On his 2015 track “Gal Like Me,” Butts sings about his maverick ways on fiddles and tambourines. The song is a little taste of delight and self-acceptance.
One of Butts’ most-listened to songs, “Wild Rose,” tells an endearing story of how “you can bloom wherever you are.” Like characters from beloved country songs like “Wide Open Spaces” or “New Strings,” Butts’ protagonist leaves behind what she knows to find something better. However, Butts deviates from the formula, and the young woman realizes that she already has everything she needs to flourish inside her.
“Blood”, the first single from his 2022 album, What else can she do is a heartbreaking portrait of all the ways we hurt each other when a relationship dissolves. There’s a palpable pain in Butts’ voice — and in the steel guitar she sings to. “Blood” is one of Butts’ best vocal performances to date.
‘White River’ (2019)
Released as a standalone single in 2019, “White River” taps into primordial energy, with visions of coyotes and smoke lingering around a white river turned red. In this track, a daughter full of rage recalls the years spent watching her mother suffer at the hands of her abusive father. Along the way, the song speeds like a revenge train: Butts sings, “You can ask for forgiveness but I know you too well / You acted like the devil so I’ll send you straight to hell.”
“Jackson” is one of the most compelling songs Butts has written to date. The song depicts a woman on the verge of acknowledging that she is in a dead end relationship. She uses the classic Johnny Cash song to help paint the picture: “Thought we’d be married in a fever / Thought we’d leave like Johnny and June / But I don’t think we’ll get to Jackson / No, I don’t think we’ll get that far.“In a way, there is beauty in the sense of disappointment.
“How Lucky Am I”
“How Lucky Am I” (2021)
Another standalone single, “How Lucky Am I”, is one of Butts’ most popular songs to date. The song sounds like a big smile and holds near its center a sense of gratitude and serendipity. Lyrics like “Saying I love you is all I wanna say / Oh how lucky am I for you to feel the same“brings joy to those who listen.
“Lights of Marfa”
‘Lights of Marfa’ (2021)
With “Marfa Lights,” her 2021 single, Butts presented herself as a true cosmic cowgirl. What makes the track so successful is Butts’ ability to acknowledge it, even for the proverbial”two lovers on the run”, there’s always that something inaccessible just out of reach”like the lights of Marfa.” Still, the lovers grab it anyway — and luckily, Butts does too.