Butch Walker, since 1988, has provided the music world with a great assortment of compositions. However, his most recent piece, “Afraid of Ghosts,” feels wholesome while managing to tell a convincing story. The album, produced by the legendary Ryan Adams, sounds impeccable audio-wise and strays away from his rock edge, often mellowing out acoustically.
At many instances, such as with “The Dark” and “Afraid of Ghosts,” the album sounds almost too much like Adams’ most recent material. Yet, despite this fact, it is very ambient and welcoming to the vision it aims to achieve.
“Father’s Day” is an especially powerful piece that explains Walker’s despair over the death of his father, whose passing largely affected Walker and caused him to write “Afraid of Ghosts.” With melodic percussions and a memorable guitar solo from Bob Mould, Walker certainly expresses his sadness but also his optimism regarding the future with his children.
On the other hand, Walker also enjoys focusing on the need to find love and often expresses it. “How Are Things, Love?” is immensely passionate and carries such a deep groove that it is impossible not to enjoy this composition. Walker’s ballad “I Love You” is self-explanatory in its message, but what is most memorable about this piece is the harmonies reached between Walker and the piano towards the end of the song.
“Chrissie Hynde” is a ballad that pays homage to “The Pretenders” singer. The chord styling of Walker is interesting, proving to be melodic and able to carry the song. “21+” has Adams written all over it and sounds like it could fit right into a “Cardinals” album.
As the album carries on, one can hear the passion and effort placed into this album. While Walker often tries to sound like something he isn’t, he maintains his artistic integrity by telling extremely compelling stories. Ultimately, Walker has crafted an album that is worth the critical appraisal that it has received.