So how did Jim Roll go 12 years between releasing 2002's Inhabiting the Ball and 2014's The Continuing Adventures of the Butterfly Kid? Well, sometimes stuff happens, like you get married, have a child, open a recording studio, produce a bunch of worthwhile acts, join Drunken Barn Dance for a while … you know, all that "life is what happens while you were making other plans" jazz. One thing that's obvious from listening to The Continuing Adventures of the Butterfly Kid is that Roll has learned a lot about making a record during the past dozen years -- this is easily the most accomplished bit of studio craft Roll has created to date, a batch of superb, pop-leaning songs that sound fun, intelligent, and challenging while finding room for some witty, literate, and engaging storytelling. There's a lighter touch in many of these songs than one would expect given Roll's previous work, but "Broken Eyes," "For You," and "Capturing the Greed" confirm he still knows how to write a powerful set of lyrics that satisfy the heart and the mind, and his way with a melody is as sure and graceful as ever. Much of Continuing Adventures leans to relatively lighter themes, but "The Butterfly Kid," "You Call That a Breakup," and "You Never Knew" are every bit as well-written, even if they are quicker to bring a smile to your lips, and Roll and co-producer Brian Lillie have guided their crew of musicians (including guitarists Scott DeRoche, Gregory McIntosh, and Sam Vail, and drummers Jim Carey and Ryan Howard) beautifully, keeping the tone of the album lively and diverse while showing real studio savvy that doesn't get in the way of the tunes. Maybe Roll didn't plan on a decade-plus recording hiatus, but he's come back a better artist and an equally gifted songwriter, and The Continuing Adventures of the Butterfly Kid is a superb record from one of the Midwest's premiere singer/songwriters.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming