Here's a Review of Butterflies and Passerbys by WBJB "The Night" 90.5's Leo Zaccari:
Butterflies and Passerbyes, is the fourth release from New Jersey native, James Dalton, and is his most personal album to date. There are nine tracks in all, including three passionate mandolin interludes which tie together the songs with remarkable poise.
Butterflies and Passerbyes is many things: it is social commentary, with songs like "Alafaya Mama" or "All Across the Cities"; it is a travelers album, with songs about written in or about far away places such as "Senator's Square"; and it is a confessional, with songs such as "Wednesday Night Mass". One of the album's charms is that it gives far away places a familiar feel to them and makes us realize that even if people speak a different language and a different culture, we are all the same.
Dalton plays all the instruments on the album including guitars, harmonica, mandolin, and even a xylophone. The album begins with a brilliant but effortless mandolin piece entitled, "Kiss of the Dark Haired Girl". Dalton's expertise with the mandolin is quite impressive, and adds to the quiet confessional tone of each song. This is followed by "Somewhere With You", a song about feeling alone and alienated, written fittingly enough, in Shanghai, China. The mandolin also turns up later on "Sprout and Ivy", a piece which takes its name from a graphic novel called "Korgi" by Disney animator Christian Slade.
Several recurring themes are hidden in the album. In addition to alienation and remorse, the theme of discovering who we really turns up on "Alafaya Mama". In looking for someone to solve all of our problems, in this case the titular figure of the song, Dalton comes to grips with the bitter realization that he is the enemy, he is the one person who has been stopping himself from achieving his dreams.
"Senaotor's Sqaure" is like the eye of the hurricane, tranquil yet commanding, calm on the exterior, yet packing enough intensity to level anything in its path. This is the story of a woman who lives a lie so she can feel normal. It's a story that we can all relate to, the lies we tell others and more importantly, the lies we tell ourselves.
The album ends with "All Across the Cities", happy yet melancholy tribute to the enduring character of New York City in the aftermath of 9/11. Musically, this is the heart of the album, and a fitting track to end with.
This album has a lived-in familiar feel to it and will remind you at times of Van Morrison or Rod Stewart circa Gasoline Alley. However, it's also nimble enough to surprise as it does in the track "Alafaya Mama" with its unpredicted but apt reference to Chuck D of Public Enemy.
The most striking impact of this album is that to its credit, it is an album not aiming for mainstream acceptance. This is quite simply an artist making music because he loves to make music. Butterflies and Passerbyes may not be James Dalton's big breakthrough to superstardom, but it will strike a chord in the hearts of those who appreciate good music. And James Dalton is okay with that.. http://wbjb.org/home.php/2007/04/13/review-of-butterflies-and-passerbyes/#more-8595
And another from Jersey Beat:
JAMES DALTON has a strong, classic singer-songwriter voice, in the way he sings, the way in writes, and the posture he projects on “Butterflies and Passerbys” (aeriarcords.com). His structure, while being “classic” is hardly formulaic, thankfully, which makes this an easy listen. Sometimes he treads on Greg Brown territory (meant positively), but mostly he covers his material with freshness, right from the start, with “Kiss of the Dark Haired Girl,” straight through to the end. There is even a blues thrown in, with “Alafaya Mama.” One of my fave cuts is “Wednesday Night Mass,” soaring through people’s lives. A one-man band (writes, plays), Dalton keeps it simple, exposing as much as is needed, rather than everything he has, which makes for a cleaner, clearer recording.