Butch Walker – Afraid Of Ghosts
If we’re being totally honest, this is the first Butch Walker release that we have approached with a sense of apprehension rather than complete excitement. Normally, we see the album releases pre-empted by a great, upbeat, rocking single or sneak previews. It has been very clear since news of this album first emerged, that Afraid Of Ghosts was not going to be a Butch Walker party rock collection. This should, of course, come as no surprise given that much of its inspiration has come from the death of Butch’s father.
The title track, “Afraid Of Ghosts”, is the first song on the album and sets the tone for the tunes that follow. It’s a slow, acoustic track which has a sense of poignancy that few singer songwriters ever achieve. The single “Chrissie Hynde” follows a similar vein and whilst not exactly a homage to Ms Hynde, there is still a glimpse of the admiration of one artist for another. These opening songs and indeed the whole album will definitely be a soundtrack to support many people as they go through difficult times in their own lives.
Songs like “How Are Things, Love” and “Father’s Day” are just brilliant and beautiful, epic ballads. These are proper ballads full of passion and emotion as opposed to the empty clichés that are normally produced by rock bands. They are the songs that live will bring the whole crowd to a state of complete silence and awe. The lyrics of “Father’s Day” would be poignant and heart breaking in any circumstances, but against the backdrop of Butch’s own loss this is taken to a whole new level. The song therefore acts as almost a centrepiece for the whole album. The ‘epic ness’ of the songs are raised even further with “Bed Of Fire”, a song which, in a better world, would be a huge James Bond theme tune!
It’s not all pain and suffering though, although “I Love You “ is as close to upbeat as this album gets. It’s a neat little acoustic pop rocker and has Butch’s calling cards of a beautiful melody and catchy tune. Likewise, he hasn’t lost his skill for carefully worded song lyrics and a sense of fun. A fact neatly shown by “Still Drunk” with the lines “we had sex on a brick wall of the public library for all to see”! There is also a neat balance between being both sensitive and intense but with an underlying uplifting melody on “21+”. Then “Autumn Leaves” has perhaps the warmest and most full sound of all the songs on the album. The tune provides a warmth against the stark coldness of the lyrical content.
As stated at the outset, anyone looking for Butch in party rock mood as he was with The Lets Go Out Tonights or on Spade, may well be disappointed. The key strength to everything that Butch Walker has ever done, however, is that he will always be 100% genuine and honest. This album reflects an artist who has been through heartbreak and delivered an album which expresses those feelings. It has a depth and sincerity that very few writers are capable of dreaming of, let alone creating. Even as huge Butch Walker fans we were initially sceptical having heard the pre album releases. However, that’s because they need to be heard and understood as part of the whole album, which is in fact a master piece of song writing. It won’t be our favourite Butch Walker album, mainly because we’re really just grown up glam rockers at heart. It is, however, probably his best album and is one hell of an accomplishment given the circumstances in which it was created.