Release Date: Feb 23, 2010
Record label: One Haven
Genre(s): Rock, Pop, Alt-Country
The day that Butch Walker runs out of melodies will be a dark day indeed, but he shows little sign of decline on his fifth solo effort. Like Sycamore Meadows, this album finds the 40-year-old Walker in a contemplative, autobiographical mood, referencing everything from his hair metal past to his Los Angeles home. It’s ostensibly a breakup record, too, with a rather despondent title and another sad, Southern-styled ballad, “Don’t You Think Someone Should Take You Home,” that sounds like the companion piece to 2008’s “Here Comes The.
Let’s face it: most musicians would have a hard time making an easy transition from hair metal to country, but, then again, most musicians aren’t Butch Walker. If you were to listen to the song “Tainted Angel” by his first band—the short-lived hair-metal outfit SouthGang (and yes, that’s him in the dark hair)—greatness was not immediately apparent. Yet following a few solid albums as part of his upbeat alt-rock trio the Marvelous 3, you could see Walker start to come to terms with his way for crafting brilliant pop hooks (and around this time, he also began manning the producer’s chair all by himself).
Lost in the seemingly endless discussion of Taylor Swift’s predictably tone-deaf performance at the Grammy awards is that she was joined on stage by producer Butch Walker, whose fantastic arrangement of Swift’s “You Belong with Me” emphasized the terrific melody and structure that are the song’s real selling points. Walker brings those same instincts for indelible pop hooks and outsized arrangements to his fifth solo album, I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart, on which he is joined by crackerjack backing band the Black Widows. Raucous opener “Trash Day” and the sing-songish “She Likes Hair Bands” showcase a strong influence of the crunchy guitar-pop of the Replacements, and Walker’s razor-sharp production plays to the strengths of his songwriting.