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Butch Walker – Sycamore Meadows

November 1, 2008 by  
Filed under CD Reviews

Butch Walker
Sycamore Meadows
Original Signal Recordings

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Reviewed by:  Justin

Butch Walker returns with his newest album titled Sycamore Meadows, which is named for the street he lived on in Malibu that was devastated by wildfires that destroyed much of the area in 2007.  Like many residents, he lost all of his personal belongings, which sadly included every master recording he ever made.  So, time to start over again…

This album ranges from some of the most emotional material he has ever done to upbeat tracks showing that yes, Butch Walker still knows how to ROCK.  I would put the material on this album somewhere between Letters and The Rise And Fall…, but every Butch Walker album has its own theme and melodies.  He loves to change things up, and Sycamore Meadows (I was going to title it S&M for short) is no exception.

Tracks like “The Weight Of Her”, “Ponce De Leon Ave.” and “The 3 Kids In Brooklyn” have a classic rock feel (a la Tom Petty) to them, and many of the tracks are poised to become excellent live tracks.  That’s the thing about this album that I thought of the first few times through… you can close your eyes to many of these tracks and visualize how amazing it’s going to sound live, where Butch has always excelled.  Not many artists are able to do that with their music and have it transition so smoothly from the CD to the live show.

My favorite tracks on the album which stood out the first few listens through would have to be “Vessels”, “Here Comes The…” (with P!nk on background vocals!), and “Ships In A Bottle”, a deeply personal song that screams new beginnings.  The deeply moving video for this song shows Butch walking over the ruins of what used to be his home before it was destroyed… very touching. (Watch the video here.) He doesn’t let it get him down too much and overall, you can tell he’s grateful for everything, is having a great time and lives with no regrets at all.  A line from “Going Back / Going Home” really drives this home for me:

”…if living like this at 38 is a bore, then come on God, please give me 38 more.”

Like all Butch Walker albums, his songwriting is impeccable throughout Sycamore Meadows.  Many of these songs sound just like he’s singing stories to his listeners.  He’s always been a top-notch producer and songwriter, which is why everybody from Avril Lavigne, The Donnas, and P!nk to The Academy Is…, Sevendust, and American Hi-Fi has clamored to work with him.  A lot of songs you’ve heard from them on the Top 40 were written and produced by Butch Walker.

Long story short (I tell too many long stories), Butch Walker fans won’t be disappointed by this album and like he does with every CD, new fans will be turned onto what a lot of us have known for many years… Butch Walker is a stellar, talented artist.  Check his homepage or Myspace site for tour dates, and when he comes through your city, do yourself a favor and GO!  Take five friends with you.  None of you will be disappointed.  It’ll be the best $15 or $20 you’ve spent since that lap dance from that stripper with a lazy eye and missing teeth named Bertha.


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