Butch Walker - Sycamore Meadows

Butch Walker – Sycamore Meadows

November 2008 saw the release of former Southgang guitarist and Marvelous 3 front man Butch Walkers 4th solo disc. Since the demise of one hit wonders the Marvelous 3 Butch has flirted with solo stardom but has found more notoriety as a producer for the likes of Avril Lavigne and Pink. Named Rolling Stone magazines hot producer of 2005, Butch found himself as a footnote to the Santa Monica wildfire story last spring when the house he was renting from Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea was destroyed in the fire. Everything Butch had musically speaking, was lost. It’s that sense of loss and rebirth that permeates his new disc.

Walker has always written songs about hurting and being hurt. A fact not lost on him during his live performances when he promises “the last bitter break up song of the night” only to launch into a half a dozen more songs on the subject. The tracks on this disc resonate with the same sentiments, but when coupled with the actual physical loss suffered by Walker the resonance is deafening. Whether its emotional or physical Walker lets the listener into a part of his soul barely grazed upon in previous recordings.

As a rock recording, this disc is ultimately a failure. Walker acknowledges his hard rocking past a few times through some clever word play but that’s the closest you’ll get to the Marvelous 3 let alone Southgang. Butch seems to get it, ironically titling the least metal song on the album “A Song for the Metalheads.” Ultimately though this disc is not about volume or loud electric guitars, it’s about one man pouring his heart out as he tries to wrap his head around a real life tragedy.

This is the most complete of any of Walkers solo work and a definite step up from “The rise and fall…” which felt uneven and struggling for identity. The highs on this disc may not be as high as they are on “Letters” but the lows aren’t as low either. Overall it’s a step forward for an artist already known for his unique songwriting abilities. Finally after having his past unceremoniously burned to ashes, Walker can take a step towards the future.

4 1/2 stars out of 5

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