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CD Reviews - Butch Walker
Butch Walker and The Black Widows: The Spade
August 2011
By: Lauren Jonik
album cover of Butch Walker and The Black Widows' The Spade

"We were never meant to be like every single body else," Butch Walker aptly sings on "Every Single Body Else." For those who have followed Walker's career from the days of the Marvelous 3 or before, it comes as no surprise that he has focused on creating his own musical path, offering a passing nod to those who have come before, but without needing copy or imitate. Known for catchy choruses, clever, witty and often poignant lyrics and an upbeat alterna-power-pop sound, Walker returns with The Spade. If previous albums Letters, Sycamore Meadows, and I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart were more mellow in overall their tone, make no mistake that The Spade is both a departure and a return to driving guitars, rocking drums and infectious hooks.

"Synthesizers," one of the first singles, begins with hand snaps that immediately set the groove before Walker patiently observes that Everybody's writing songs with synthesizers/ But I don't have a synthesizer. But, alas this does not prevent him from still "getting down like Duran Duran in 1985." Walker demonstrates that following the trend of the moment is no guarantee of happiness or success and offers an alternative. For once, once in your life, won't you do what feels right/ Instead of waiting for the next big thing to strike? The aggressive and biographical "Bullet Belt" tells the story of his personal rock and roll lineage, one that he is passing on to his own son, Maybe I'm not that crazy, just a chip off the bullet belt. Conversely, the delightful and gentle mid-tempo "Sweethearts," poses the question What if we became sweethearts. . . What if we became lovers. . . before reminding that love has its own timeline: Take it easy, Mama/ We can go about it casually.

A charismatic live performer who possesses an ability to engage crowds into a rock-n-roll frenzy one moment and to move them with a swaying ballad the next (complete with cell phones in the air), Walker will be touring with his current band, The Black Widows throughout the US in the Fall of 2011. In "Summer of '89," Walker sings with increasing urgency When do I become/ When do I become/ When do I become? If The Spade is any indication, the answer is now.