Butch Walker – Butch Walker as…Glenn (Album Review)

From composing and performing his own Rock Opera to living the life of a 1970s piano man, Glenn, err, Butch Walker, does it all! The Grammy Award-nominated superstar is ready to sing us a song on Butch Walker as…Glenn, which arrives on Friday, August 26, 2022, thanks to The Orchard.

You already know Walker well. A phenomenal producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, author, and more, he has been making music his professional game for nearly four decades. Beginning his career out of Georgia, with a series of Rock bands, he officially began doing things his way with 2002’s Left of Self-Centered. Somewhere amid creating another eight solo albums—including 2008’s Sycamore Meadows, 2016’s Stay Gold, and 2020’s American Love Story—he would go on to become a highly sought-after producer and songwriter, collaborating with the likes of Green Day, Pink, and Taylor Swift.

But sometimes, simplicity is king. So, for his tenth disc, Walker opted to set aside his eclectic resume and draw inspiration from his past, tapping into his own nostalgia to deliver Butch Walker as…Glenn. Not a far cry from his last release, and yet approached from an entirely different angle, the 13-track Glenn draws on the sophisticated Pop elements of past hitmakers, particularly the balladeers of the 1970s, while pairing his characteristic sense of sardonic wit with a timeless storyline.

What with its obvious homage to glory days that some listeners were not around to experience, we understand if you’re debating whether or not Glenn is apt to strike a chord within your young soul. For an answer, the first track that you should stream is, in fact, the last track: “Lean Into Me.” If this stellar piano-led offering isn’t your shot o’ whisky, well, then it’s likely that this album is not going to wet your whistle. Because the entirety of these 10 tracks (and three bonus ‘scenes’) can be summarized in this grand finale: thick 1970s influences, plenty of tinkling the ivories, and Walker as the titular storyteller—just another talented but largely unappreciated local working the scene and praising the bar staff.

As an album, Glenn weighs heavily on the idea that you want to hear Walker offer up a set of piano man-inspired songs that pay homage to everyone from Billy Joel and Elton John to John Mellencamp. From stubbornly clinging to the past American(a)-style in the superbly catchy “Roll Away (Like a Stone)” to praising nostalgia on “Avalanche,” highlights of the collection abound when Walker taps into his exceptional songwriting abilities and has fun with the schtick. Even the lollygagging “Leather Weather (Mr. and Ms. Understanding),” with its funky bass, delivers Glenn’s fictitious band of ‘70s troubadours to the stage with finesse.

But there are sleepers, too. The lovely Sue Clayton guests on the bluesy “State-Line Fireworks,” though the track, along with “Slow Leak,” just comes across as that time of night when the band is performing carefully-composed background music for the resident alcoholics. The bulk of the collection, however, falls somewhere between Happy Hour and Last Call; songs such as the Glam-dusted “Tell Me I’m Pretty (Bethamphetamine Part 2),” “Holy Water Hangover,” a search for identity within the wilds of Hollywood, and the titular musician’s chance to let his storytelling shine on “The Negotiator.”

Not to be overlooked, the piano ballad “Don’t Let It Weigh Heavy on Your Heart,” featuring Country crooner Elizabeth Cook, comes late in the collection but shines just as bright as some of the earlier rockers. Conversely, while they certainly help to evoke the fictional sticky tabletops and wobbly barstools in our minds, Glenn’s trio of sound bites—the introductory “The Band Takes the Stage,” self-explanatory “Bar Fight,” and guitar-anchored “The Band Plays an Encore”—could have easily been flushed down the urinal.

Ultimately, Butch Walker as…Glenn, much like a dive bar superstar, has its moments. Taken as Walker’s playful homage to his earliest influences, with sardonic wit and plot points to boot, it’s a record that offers some friendly advice (“If it bothers you, leave it alone”) as it jovially opens a tab in the name of entertainment. Sure, Glenn is not a rocket man and he’s not going to be leaving with any Uptown girls, but he’s perfectly aware of his own limitations. So, some friendly advice: if you don’t have a lust for his favorite decade, you’re going to want to roll away and find the Emo night down the street. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Butch Walker’s latest 4 out of 5 stars.

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1 Comment

  • This review is mostly on par and well done. I listened to the entire album and feel I’d like to throw in my two cents worth, I just feel to suggest someone not familiar with this 70s vibe/piano man concept to listen to the last song is to see if you like the entire album I really don’t understand. Yes, it’s a piano man type theme, but most the arrangements throughout the release are much more involved with a lot more instrumentation than that one song, which I don’t feel should be your litmus test for the entire album. Also State-Line Fireworks is just a little mellow, certainly not a sleeper. It’s very soulful and well written song. A sleeper to me is a bad song. Slow Leak is a bit of a sleeper.

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