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Music Review: Butch Walker and the Black Widows – The Spade

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Let’s just start out by saying that I adore Butch Walker. I have been a fan since my daughter introduced me to his music back in her teenage days, when he was with Marvelous 3. I was excited to hear The Spade, his new CD with The Black Widows,

I was not disappointed. The CD delivers excitement, wit, diversity, and, like every Butch Walker CD, leaves you feeling good. While these days he is as well-known for writing and producing material for other performers, like Avril Lavigne and Weezer, nothing is more fun than listening to Walker and his band make their own joyful noise.

Walker excels at creating short stories in just a few minutes of a song, and that is what he does on the first track on the CD, “Bodegas and Blood.” Next track “Every Single Body Else” is a bright little song which introduces the recurring theme of just being yourself: “We were never meant to be like every single body else.”

“Sweethearts” is pure pop, with great harmonies on the chorus and just a touch of Motown. It is also full of excellent guitar hooks and has an optimistic message.

Butch Walker and the Black Widows

And then we come to “Synthesizers,” which is a tune reminiscent of David Bowie that spells out the real message of this CD: “For once/Once in your life/Won’t you do what feels right/Instead of waiting for the next big compromise.”

That’s exactly what Butch Walker does. He makes the music he wants to make, and doesn’t worry about trends or what music someone else is making. He’s fine, for instance, with suddenly going back to his southern roots and reminding us all that he grew up in Cartersville, Georgia, with the great folk-tinged southern rock of “Dublin Crow,” and The Eagles-ish “Closest Thing to You I’m Gonna Find.” The latter tune returns to a common theme in Walker’s music, the relationship that just doesn’t quite work.

The CD continues with the hard-driving song, “Bullet Belt,” about how he might just be a “chip off the old bullet belt,” what with his mother’s stories about sneaking out her window and his father’s tale of an “Iron Maiden concert in a Carolina parking lot.” It’s a reference this South Carolina-born and raised reviewer just loved.

Finally, Walker closes the CD with “Suckerpunch,” a hilarious song about a classic rock theme, getting in a fight in a bar. “Suckerpunch” was obviously fun for the band, and it’s fun for the listener too, illustrating Walker’s quick wit and ability not to take himself seriously at all.

Altogether, this is a pure feel-good music, with no pretensions, a multitude of hooks, and guaranteed to have you dancing and singing along.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.