Butch Walker may be the hardest working man in rock n’ roll and all the same his work as a songwriter and producer has put him on more radio stations and in more cd players than most people would expect. Working with likes of Weezer, Avril Lavingne, Pink and Katy Perry; Walker knows his way around knobs, buttons, amps and a guitar and wrapping it all up in one package finds it difficult to put out a bad song. The Spade is another example of Walker’s playful style, combined with enough songwriting skills to choke a horse, and hooks that reach out and grab you by the hair. Walker and the Black Widows deliver an album here that screams summertime freedom.
Walker is difficult to describe, one part glam rock sage, one part Americana cowboy tough, one part kung-fu master and some parts that defy description. Whatever the mix, he manages to find a happy home for his retrospective lyrics and it’s a great listen that will have everyone in the room singing along with the chorus before the end of the first song.
The Black Widows themselves (Fran Capitanelli and Chris Unck on guitars, and Jake Sinclair on bass, and Patrick Keeler from The Raconteurs and The Greenhornes lent his drumming skills on the album) aren’t a bunch of cover band wannbes keep up with walker all the way. “Bodegas and Blood” is the opening song and sets out the pace of the record with catchy hooks and continues all the way through “Suckerpunch”, every member of the Widows brings his “A” game.
“Summer of 89” is the first single from the album and can jump straight to heavy rotation on just about any radio station in America (except the ones that suck) and likely should have been released at the onset of summer. Even so, it’s a great song and was a great choice for a lead-out to the album.
Country music should be banging down Walker’s door, as evident in “Closest Thing to You I’m Going to Find”. Country tinged and brimming with retrospection, every girl dreams of having a song like this written about her, and it’s slowed down pace brings a sort of peace to the album. This song will make it’s way to break-up tapes (or cds) for years to come.
Part of Walker’s charm is his absolute connection with his fans, embracing social media like Facebook and conversing daily with his followers on Twitter he’s managed to not only write, perform and produce but to inform and entice his fans along the way. Instead of being fed a product at the end of a long process, Walker’s fans are part of the process. “Dublin Crow” was the first track previewed online and the Celtic-tinged track full of dead-on harmonies was a big hit.
The devotion and connection to his fans does not go unnoticed, several of his fall tour dates sold out in minutes (if you want to see Walker live be sure to get you tickets now), something that Walker does not take lightly, and his live shows are full of energy and charm with attendees walking out feeling more than slightly spent.
The Spade is the latest in Walker’s long-line of great albums, available in digital format on iTunes, cd from Amazon or Best Buy, and vinyl in the Dangerbird Store it’s more than worth the price, and recommended listening.
By Meredith Underhill