November 11, 2008
Original Signal/Stay Platinum
The Weight Of Her
The Weight Of Her is the catchy rock & roll song that you’d expect from an artist like Butch Walker. He is widely acknowledged as one of today’s finest songwriters, and he proves it right on this first track. The lyrics and the music communicate with each other, which provides for a song that is not just radio-friendly but also well-composed.
Going Back/Going Home
The album continues with the country-rock influenced Going Back/Going Home, a song with a style that reminds me slightly of Slobberbone. The song is a musical masterpiece and the combination of storytelling qualities and free melody that carries on and tilts the song to your ears is pure genius.
Here Comes The?
This is an obvious choice for a radio single if you ask me. With a sound that is somewhere in between Chad Perrone & Patrick Park (both very respectable singer/songwriters that I count among my absolute favorites), Butch Walker takes the genre to another level. In itself this song might not seem too special to you, but if you listen to the subtleties in the music you can only appreciate Butch Walker’s songwriting.
Ponce de Leon Ave.
Gimme some swingin’ rock & roll and throw in a French title, voila! Butch Walker just continues to show his talent and his musical excellence. While Ponce de Leon Ave. isn’t among the album’s finest it is another great rock & roll song that is part of this strong album.
Ships In A Bottle
Ships In A Bottle has a focus on the powerful and passionate vocals, and on the excellent piano melody. The dynamic interaction between these two musical lines is something that displays why Butch Walker is so good at what he does. Everything is in total synch and helps other parts of the song come out great. Aside from that, this song is arranged very well and the lyrics are very very strong.
While Vessels is another strong song, I do feel it is one of the lesser ones on “Sycamore Meadows”. A good thing is that Butch Walker’s music never sounds forced or fabricated. It’s always smooth and pure, but on Vessels I don’t think he’s at his peak vocally and musically the song isn’t as diverse or powerful as I hoped. My expectations are very high when it comes to Butch Walker, and usually he can easily meet them, but this time I’m afraid it’s a close call.
Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought Of You
The intimate Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought Of You is something of an extraordinary high level. It’s typically Butch Walker to come up with a song that says so much as this one. Lyrically it is (one of) the best on this album and the way he makes a melodic song with minimal melodic lines is just sheer brilliance. The effects and subtle keys sometimes are in the exact right places and the song just shines in absolute wonder.
The 3 Kids In Brooklyn
On The 3 Kids In Brooklyn Butch Walker rivals Bob Dylan in the storytelling, empathic folk/rock song department. Where Dylan was the master of this genre in the 60s/70s and Springsteen took over for the 80s/90s, Butch Walker is surely the heir to the thrown.
The oboe is not a typical instrument in pop music, but mr. Walker has found a way to incorporate it in this excellent musical arrangement. He throws in a couple other unexpected instruments and it gives it a little dreamy, mysterious, melancholic warmth. And Butch Walker’s signature vocals just emphasize the emotion that lies within this song.
A Song For The Metalheads
This folk song with an unusual title is something that you wouldn’t expect, yet typical for Butch Walker. The sentimental and catchy guitar tune with exceptional lyrics and a cute harmonica just is another example of how diverse and musically sophisticated Butch Walker can be.
Closer To The Truth & Further From The Sky
Closer To The Truth & Further From The Sky is something that could do well on radio maybe, though it might not be the most obvious choice. It’s a powerpop song that reminds me a little of my friends John Taglieri & Keith LuBrant. Just like them, Butch Walker provides us with an inspirational powerpop song that is not only memorable but also draws from different influences without losing its unity and completeness as a song.
The album ends with ATL, a piano-based ballad which would be perfect for a movie score. The melancholic, sentimental song draws on the emotional connection with the listener and the compassion and honesty that it holds in its music and lyrics. Butch Walker, like no other, can bring a song to you and make you connect to it in a way that you might not have expected. ATL is a brilliant ending to a brilliant album.
It’s hardly possible to not be excited about a new release by Butch Walker. This man is just so talented and he’s not always getting the recognition he deserves. While he’s a big name within the business, he’s not the first name that comes to mind to a lot of people. Why not? would be my question. Because not only is he an exceptional songwriter, he also is a quality performer. “Sycamore Meadows” is another album that will only solidify Walker’s name as a songwriter and musician and it will, without a doubt, gain him more recognition and airplay, which would be a good thing for Butch Walker, and a good thing for radio, as it can always use an injection of great music.