Following the somber, introspective tinge of Butch Walker’s 2015 statement piece Afraid of Ghosts, the question loomed large…. what would followup Stay Gold entail just a year later? I mean the Georgia-born singer-songwriter had just stripped down and bared the ragged grief of a son losing his father on Ghosts, so it was hard to foresee just where Gold would take Walker creatively going forward.
Could he be as intensely raw once again?
Not exactly. While Stay Gold does possess some moments of darker frailty (“Record Store” and the wonderful Ashley Monroe duet “Descending”), Walker is once again back to turning up his amps and shaking off the dust and demons in the process. Gold is much more dominated by joyful, E Street Band style rockers (“Irish Exit”, “East Coast Girl”, “Wilder In The Heart”) that recall the Gaslight Anthem during a year in which their frontman Brian Fallon ironically leaned away from that sound on his debut solo record Painkillers.
Even more ironic considering that Walker himself produced that album, but that’s a different point for another post.
The stories and lyricisms of drunken nights, hookups gone wrong and lifelong debauchery remain, but with an undertone of greater maturity beneath them. The realization of getting older, having back problems, grey hair, craving a Porsche (to quote “East Coast Girl”)… it’s a common problem rockers face with age, but one that Walker doesn’t happen to shy away from.
He’s not so much Green Day as Prince, who always knew “life is like a party, and parties aren’t meant to last”.
Walker may bring the party with Stay Gold, but he knows how to make the moments last too.
Stay gold, ponyboy.
Standout Tracks: “East Coast Girl”, “Irish Exit”, “Descending”, “Record Store”