They Still Make Albums Like This

Music Review: Butch Walker’s Stay Gold

Bob Ledbetter, Cactus Contributor

“Remember to stay gold, Ponyboy…stay gold!”

Some of us who grew up watching movies in the 80’s remember this classic quote from the film The Outsiders. These were the last words from Johnny (played by a very young pre-Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio) to his best friend, Ponyboy Curtis, to keep his innocence. It was this quote which inspired the 8th solo studio album, Stay Gold from acclaimed singer/songwriter/producer Butch Walker.

Who is Butch Walker, you ask? Well, I’m sure you’ve heard of P!nk, Avril Lavigne, Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco, and Saosin, but the one commonality these bands and artists all share is their songwriter/producer, Butch Walker. WHO? Yeah, I get that a lot.

Butch Walker is one of the most prolific musicians (that no one knows) in the music industry today. By day, he’s a songwriter/producer for other artists like the ones listed above. By night, he’s a singer/songwriter/performer of his own solo projects. A friend of mine recently called Walker a modern day John Cougar Mellencamp after hearing the title track “Stay Gold.” This took me by surprise because I’ve been following Walker’s career for over 12 years, and this comparison never entered my mind. I was never that big a fan of Mellencamp, but I think what he meant was that Walker’s songs could be its own genre called “Storyteller Rock”. I think my friend has a point. Walker’s songs all have a smart sensitivity about them. They all tell unique and interesting stories within the smart and melodic hooks. You can hear elements of other genres like country, southern-rock, 80’s glam rock, guitar-driven rock, and folk ballads in every album, yet no two albums are the same.

Butch Walker released his album Stay Gold back in August 2016. This album, produced in collaboration with Ryan Adams, is a fun, 10-song collection that tells stories with soul, heart, and wit. The title track, “Stay Gold”, is an up-tempo, toe-tapping, southern-rock-style song which gives us a glimpse into Walker’s teenage years growing up a hellion outside Atlanta. A slower, but beautiful song on this album is “Wilder in the Heart” which tells the story of a girl he once knew and loved but couldn’t make a relationship work with her. “Ludlow Expectations” is an 80’s throwback rockin’ song full of great hooks, but deep lyrics about relationships. The album also features fun songs like “Mexican Coke” which opens with a distinct 70’s pop guitar riff that let your ears know this is gonna be a party!

If you are tired of the autotuned, manufactured “talent” in today’s music and are looking for something new, raw, heart-felt, fun, smart, and untouched by the mainstream, then search for Butch Walker on YouTube. You can listen to any or all of the tracks I mentioned above and many more. This album would also be a great addition to anyone’s vinyl collection and a digital download is included inside the record. See? Smart!}