March 17, 2015 Butch Walker – Afraid Of Ghosts (Album Review)
Perhaps one of the most underrated American songwriters/producers over the past two decades has been Georgian Butch Walker. Beginning in the 1980s with bands such as Badd Boyz, Bye the Bullet, and SouthGang, Walker’s career saw new light during the late 1990s with the success of Power Pop act Marvelous 3. Releasing three records as the trio, their 1998 album Hey! Album made waves with the single “Freak of the Week,” thus putting Walker’s talents on the mainstream map. What most do not realize is Walker has been one of the most accomplished record producers of the last twenty years, having been behind some defining albums including Sevendust’s Seasons in 2003, Simple Plan’s Still Not Getting An.. in 2004, Pink’s I’m Not Dead in 2006, and Fall Out Boy’s Save Rock and Roll in 2013, among many others. In between his busy schedule of producing Walker launched his solo career in 2002 with debut Left of Self-Centered. Having since released a new record consistently every couple of years since, 2015 brings Walker’s seventh overall full-length album titled Afraid of Ghosts. Spending a year to write the album, it was recorded within four days, and comes a year after the passing of Walker’s father. According to the songwriter, the album is a way of “coming to terms with the past and living for the future … coming to terms with your ghosts, taking what scares you the most, and turning it into something real.” Produced by singer/songwriter Ryan Adams at his PAX AM Studios, Afraid of Ghosts was released on February 3rd via independent label Dangerbird Records.
Beginning the album is the title track where Walker counts in the beat before the smooth acoustic guitar sets in. As the first song written for the album, with a soft voice, Walker tells stories that come straight from the heart, capturing the listener’s attention. “I Love You” is a heartwarming song with a catchy melody that definitely will get stuck in the listener’s head for hours, if not days after. Lead single, “Chrissie Hynde” is a slow and thoughtful song that is also very personal and deep. Continuing the album is an honest song titled “Still Drunk” which features beautiful lyrics and a profoundness that will really capture the audience and not let them go. Meanwhile, “How Are Things, Love” is an edgier piece, much like a baby taking their first steps, the rhythm holds every now and then.
Bringing on one of the catchiest pieces of Afraid of Ghosts is second single “Bed On Fire” which features Ryan Adams on drums. The melody is easygoing and draws the listener in to a different place, leaving the here-and-now far behind. With lyrics about a series of life-changing events, “21+” is a song that features a theme of seeking direction and a melody reminiscent of a fairy-tale. Adding intrigue, the track features a guest guitar solo by none other than Hollywood icon, Johnny Depp. Continuing with “Autumn Leaves,” the album becomes more straightforward again with nice guitar strumming, a steady rhythm, and vocals that suit the melody. Then, the song “Father’s Day” is probably the most revealing on the entire album where Walker really opens up to his audience, carrying a deep pain in his heart as he sings, teaming up with Sugar’s Bob Mould for a simply beautiful piece. Closing out the album is speedier tune “The Dark” which carries more light, but with deep lyrics, this song also will touch the listener’s heart.
Afraid Of Ghosts is a very personal album with sincere lyrics and slow melodies that arrests the will of the audience’s attention. With his acoustic guitar and soft voice, Walker tells the story of his life in a way that all can relate. Beautiful and honest, this album evokes strong emotions, and before returning to the temporal world, it is likely that the listener will need to take a few deep breaths to shake its haunting sensations. CrypticRock gives Afraid of Ghosts 4 out of 5 stars.