Butch Walker “Stay Gold”
This has been an album we have been anticipating for some time. Not only is Butch Walker one of our favourite artists of ALL TIME, but the man himself had promised it would have more of a ‘good time’ feel about it. His last release, “Afraid of Ghosts” was a heavy piece of work which was obviously influenced by the tragic death of his father. The other thing which has given us such high hopes for this release, is that he has already produced two of our favourite albums released in the past twelve months, Brian Fallon’s “Painkillers” and Frank Turners’ “Positive Songs For Negative People”.
The promised more positive feel is immediately apparent on the opener “Stay Gold”. It’s a classic Butch pop/rock number, which owes as much to Bryan Adams as it does to ‘cooler’ references such as The Boss. “East Coast Girl” adopts a ‘trick’ that he has used on previous tracks. It mixes a spoken word, narrative approach on the verses before hitting the chorus, which has a real hook. It’s certainly a live favourite in the making.
One thing that Butch has always known how to do really well, is deliver big, anthemic numbers. On this release, that’s achieved on “Wilder In The Heart” and “Ludlow Expectations”. The last of those certainly has a Springsteen feel or perhaps just shows the results of him having spent a lot of time with Brian Fallon!
Even at his most upbeat, there is still some room for at least a bit of melancholy and heartbreak. “Descending”, a duet with Ashley Monroe, is a ballad which is heartfelt and sensitive.
The atmosphere turns on it’s head again for the bar room brawling ditty “Irish Exit”. Although, the album reaches a good time peak with “Mexican Coke”. It’s genuinely a great feeling to hear Butch putting out a pop flavoured song which is just great fun to listen to. “Can We Just Not Talk About Last Night” may have a more serious tone, but it’s still built around a great melody and pop sensibilities.
There is a more adult pop sound to “Spark: Lost”. It has a country feel to it and is built around a really full and produced sound with a great use of harmonies. If we are forced to find one fault with this album, it’s the fact that it ends with the slow paced “Record Store”. Ironically, it’s still a great song, but we’d have loved to have it all end on an upbeat note (although to be fair that would be our preference with every record!).
Let’s be honest, it was always highly likely we would positively review this album given that Butch Walker is one of our favourite artists. We have loved him since his early days in Marvelous 3 (and even his guitar slinging days in Southgang!). The guy is just a damn fine songwriter (for himself and others). In some ways, it is frustrating that he isn’t huge and a household name (he is particularly ‘under the radar’ here in the UK). Maybe this album could help change that, and you can help by buying this latest release. But be warned, we can guarantee that if you do, you will then be working your way through his brilliant back catalogue as well!
Love Butch’s work, and the new album is great. Agree with you that it’s really frustrating he isn’t more of a household name, but he has carved out a solid niche for himself. I understand why he had to get Afraid of Ghosts out of his system, but I’m really happy he brought back the rock on this record.
Loved the early singles here (East Coast Girl, Stay Gold) and Wilder in the Heart and Can We Just Not Talk About Last Night are excellent as well. Highly recommend all his solo albums, as well as the Marvelous 3 records.