DreadWorld Review: Butch Walker 'Stay Gold' (2016)

Something a little out of left field here on the DW this morning, or should I say, Left of Self Centered? That of course, is the title of the debut solo album from former Southgang guitarist ad Marvelous 3 front man Butch Walker. Walker has spent the better part of the last 15 years releasing solo albums and establishing himself as one of the go to song writers/producers for the music industries elite. He's worked with everyone from P!nk to Katy Perry, from Fall Out Buy to Sevendust.

Over that time, Butch's solo career has been rather eclectic to say the least. He's almost become the singer/songwriter version of David Bowie. You never quite know what you are going to get sonically from a new Butch Walker release. He's dabbled in post-punk on his debut solo album, followed that with some emo flashes on it's follow up Letters, only to change directions again on his third release, the 70's glam tinged The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker & The Let's Go Out Tonight's. Recently, Butch's sound has settled into a comfortable country tinged indie rock vibe, with the notable exception of his last album Afraid of Ghosts a Ryan Adams produced disc that was more of a funeral dirge for Butch over the loss of his father than proper feeling Butch Walker album.

Stay Gold is the 8th (!) studio album from Butch Walker and the release is best summed up in words used by my brother in arms Eric Mocker who can be found dropping weekly pearls of wisdom with his co-host Andy Mocker on the extremely popular Mockers Podcast. While discussing the first track released from Stay Gold Eric pontificated that "...Butch has finally gone full Springsteen" and in many respects Stay Gold is Butch's "Springsteen"album. There are many times while listening to song like "Mexican Coke" you can imagine Patti Scialfa off to the side banging her tambourine, jumping in with her smooth background vocals.

As the album title and title track, taken from the famous line in S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders (you were supposed to read in 8th or 9th grade) suggests, Butch has taken this album full Greaser, leaving the LA/Soc vibe of certain past releases behind. It's that blue collar every man vibe that allows Butch to dive head first into Springsteen-light territory. "Ludlow Expectations" is Butch's "Born to Run" (in theme). "Wilder in The Heart" could be off "The Wild, The Innocent, And The E-Street Shuffle." "Record Store" could be a "B" side on "Darkness on The Edge of Town."

Now, don't mistake the Springsteen vibe/feel for any lack of skill on Walker's part. Longtime Butch fans will be extremely satisfied with Stay Gold. All the trademark Butch-ism's are here. None of his song writing acumen has diminished. He still has the remarkable ability to create individual characters for each song, while making each one a piece of him. You know he's writing about a small piece of himself on some levels. Stay Gold does push away from the blatantly autobiographical songs like "Song For the Metal Heads" or "She Like's Hair Bands" yet Walker doesn't push his protagonists to the esoteric levels of a Warren Zevon.

Butch Walker's 8th Studio album Stay Gold is a return to form after the morose (and understandably so) Afraid of Ghosts. There is plenty of country tinged blue collar rock to satiate long time fans. If your'e a fan of Springsteen, Pete Yorn, or some of the good stuff Ryan Adams has released, and you have been hesitant to dip your toes into the warm, welcoming water that is Butch Walker, Stay Gold is just the album to do that with. It's a very good album that feels like slipping on that old pair of jeans after a summer of wearing shorts - it's just right.

**** 1/4 Stars Out of *****

"Stay Gold", The latest release from Butch Walker is now available pretty much everywhere through Dangerbird Records in various formats. I got mine through Amazon HERE.

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