Grand National The John Butler Trio (WEA International) You have to give John Butler points for trying. The American-born, Western Australia-raised singer/songwriter stretches his talents wide over the course of Grand National, straddling everything from folk to reggae, jazz, hip hop and all parts in between. As far as pure musical talent goes, you're left in no doubt about how Butler has established himself as one of Australia's premier artists. Supported by Shannon Birchall on bass and Michael Barker on percussion, he has produced a finely tuned package that will go some way at least towards gaining Butler the international acclaim many Down Under have been calling out for during the past few years. The trouble is that, like the early releases of fellow members of the international friendly pop fold - Dave Matthews, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson et al - sometimes it's all a little too much variation and your head is left spinning. Butler's trip down the hip hop highway (on Daniella), for example, would have been better left on the cutting-room floor. What might have sounded playful and fun in theory comes across as trite. Again, it says much for Butler's talent that such annoyances can be forgiven in light of some stronger pieces. The reggae-infused Groovin Slowly, and his trips into more serious matters - on the politically tinged Gov Did Nothin' and Fire in the Sky - show his own style. Grand National may not be a work of genius, but Butler is heading in the right direction.