02 February 2015 (released)
26 January 2015
An album of intimate and haunting beauty by the multi-talented and multi-faceted Butch Walker, with helping hands from part-time pirate Johnny Depp and ex-Hüsker Dü Bob Mould, and produced by the prolific Ryan Adams – what a treat!
The overall feel of ‘Afraid Of Ghosts’ is that of finely tuned vulnerability, passion, and harmonious musical arrangements that are stripped of all unnecessary and overblown arrangements. The result is ten tracks of honest Americana – richly textured yet delicately flavoured and with emphasis on the vocals. Only every now and then the distinctly acoustic excursions ‘explode’ and we land on rockier ground.
Opener and title track ‘Afraid Of Ghosts’ with its optimistic outlook of turning ‘angst’ into something real is a subtle affair with tender guitar-picking and gentle piano tunes that builds up the mood slowly and effectively.
‘I Love You’ is a chirpy love song, once again its simple arrangement makes the result all the stronger.
Well well, and now on to track 3! It’s a wonderful tribute to the great Pretenders initiator Chrissie Hynde (…singing through a blown dash speaker about Ohio). Achingly beautiful chord-work and matching vocals performed by Butch make this one of the album’s highlights.
The folky playfulness of ‘Still Drunk’ has magic qualities that should cast a spell on everyone who appreciates sitting around a campfire with a guitar.
Echoes of Canadian outfit Cowboy Junkies ring through on ‘How Are Things, Love’ – sliding along to the devastating question “how are things, love / is the new guy everything, love / do you ever think of me, love”.
‘Bed On Fire’ is a damn fine rock ballad with a penetrating chorus and some searing riffs that add heat to the simmer flame.
Now on to ‘21+’ – an utterly bewitching song that sees guest musician Johnny Depp delivering a wicked little guitar solo. Butch sings of a guy longing for freedom on the road while being stuck in everyday life in a small- town: “Sitting after my shift / the drinks are free, but I'm not / I'll tell you what I will be, if I ever grow up / I'm gonna get out of town that drowns everything I love.”
‘Autumn Leaves’ and ‘Father’s Day’, the latter for which second guest musician Bob Mould lends his guitar skills, are tunes that stay in your head. In particular Mould’s riff work grabs you and won’t let go until the song’s fade-out.
“My favourite bike doesn’t have a name” concludes Butch on closing track ‘The Dark’… but one of MY new favourite albums does. It’s called ‘Afraid Of Ghosts’ and I can’t recommend Butch Walker's seventh studio album highly enough!