Don’t Be ‘Afraid’ of Butch Walker’s ‘Ghosts’
After his departure from the bands SouthGang and Marvelous 3, singer and songwriter Butch Walker embarked on a solo career that has spanned more than a decade. Inspired by the passing of his father, Walker returns to the folk-rock scene with the release of his seventh studio album, “Afraid of Ghosts.”
The opening song is the album’s titular track. Walker reveals his struggles in forming a bond with his father, even in his ailing last days, with lyrics like “I try to go to the hospice every Friday/ Sit in traffic, thicker than blood/ Try to know a man that I never really knew.” The gentle guitar riffs mesh well with the vulnerability in his voice.
Walker emotionally exposes himself even more with “I Love You,” arguably the three most dangerous words in the English language. The song is surprisingly upbeat, similar in fashion to the next track on the album, “Chrissie Hynde,” named after the lead singer of The Pretenders. Walker remembers his former lover and it is obvious he is pained by the fact that all he has left of her are memories. He delves deeper into his past with “Still Drunk” and has no problem with disclosing personal details, such as “We had sex on a brick wall of the public library/ For all to see.” Hopefully, there were no children around when this salacious act occurred.
After some more personal and shocking memories, “Afraid of Ghosts” takes an unexpected turn with one of the album’s highlights: “21+.” The chorus is pleasantly accompanied by the piano and the classic rock vibe towards the end of the song is amazing. The high production quality makes it seem as if Walker plans on releasing this track as a single for radio airplay.
Walker returns to the “paternal” theme of the album with “Father’s Day,” where he laments that he has no clue where to go in life ever since his father passed away. The album ends, finally, with “The Dark,” which sounds pretty much like all the other songs.
As stated earlier, Walker was formerly in two bands but is now a solo artist, with a heavy emphasis on “solo.” There is not a single collaboration on “Afraid of Ghosts,” and it is painfully boring to hear the same voice on each track. Walker should have considered working with artists like Hozier, Mumford & Sons, or Vance Joy to shake things up a little.
“Afraid of Ghosts” may not be the best album from Walker, especially because many songs sound the same, but it will be enjoyed by fans of gentle folk-rock.
ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: You like the easy listening type of music frequently played at Starbucks.