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Butch Walker Letters Epic Records
Produced By: Butch Walker

Running Time: 51.23

Release Date: Out Now

Released: US

Musical Style: Modern Rock / Pop

Links: Butch Walker
79%
Songs: 75%
Sound: 85%
I left my review of the new Butch Walker opus for some time to guarantee I had my head fully around it and viewed it in the best intention of its maker.
Butch is a sensational songwriter, no question. He is also an accomplished musician and producer. I never had a lot of time for Southgang, but adore Marvelous 3 and Butch's first solo album not to mention the work he has done with other artists.
I guess the whole point of a solo album is to do whatever one pleases and Butch made no secret of the fact this album was written and recorded as something he wanted - and needed to do.
No surprise then to find the album is quite a departure from what fans would normally expect from Butch. This is a very personal, very insightful collection of intimate songs which are largely very relaxed and stripped right back.
You can't fault the song quality here more twisted lyrics, personal insights and all the intelligent musical twists we have come to expect from Butch. However, the pace of the album and the laid back style which sees Butch virtually desert his traditional bombastic delivery will give some fans cause for concern.
Yes, this album contains some fine songs, but it also contains a few fillers, which is new territory for Butch.
Some track highlights include the brilliant pop of Maybe It's Just Me, which isn't far off Butch's usual style, albeit more laid back.
Mixtape is another good pop song, with a cleaver lyric, while #1 Summer Jam is about as openly pop as it gets.
So At Last is a very intimate track which features a haunting vocal, but its hypnotic nature does threaten to send some fans to sleep.
Uncomfortably Numb is probably the album highlight for me a brash 80's style pop rocker in the same stripped back feel of the album as a whole.
Next track Joan is incredibly slow and is where the album begins to lose me. Don't Move continues the slow pace, but is a decent ballad.
Lights Out is an intriguing pop rocker, but still doesn't quite ignite my imagination.
Best Thing You Never Had is another ballad which duplicates what has already been delivered with Don't Move.
Race Cars And Goth Rock is another breezy pop track with a slightly odd sound. Interesting, but not a killer.
Promise, like Joan, is incredibly slow and devoid of any major hook to guarantee repeat listens.
Thank-You Note is a nearly 8 minutes in length and is fairly adventurous bit of music, but the slow start and the inclusion of other slow songs diminishes it's impact.
The Bottom Line
Butch Walker fans won't mind this departure from the norm, as long as the next album sees a return to the energetic, slamming rock tunes he is best loved for. This album shows more glimpses of genius, but I can't see it getting Butch any better known than he already is from it. The fans are waiting for Butch to become a million selling rock God. It might just have to be the next album that does that.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
Marvellous 3 - Ready Sex Go, Hey Album
Left Of Self Centered
Letters

Line Up
Promo: Not Listed

Essential for fans of:
Butch Walker
Track Listing
Sunny Day Real Estate
Maybe It's Just Me*
Mixtape*
#1 Summer Jam*
So At Last
Uncomfortably Numb*
Joan
Don't Move
Lights Out
Best Thing You Never Had
Race Cars And Goth Rock
Promise
Thank-You Note
--*Best Tracks


18/05/06: Samantha - Rleather@nycap.rr.com
Rating: 100
This album is hotttttttttt!

30/03/05: Melissa - melrohner@yahoo.com
Rating: 100
I can't believe I see so many negative reviews here! I love all of Butch's old stuff, but I think Letters is one of the best yet - okay, maybe it ties with Hey! Album, but it would be hard for anything to surpass that one for me. I really respect Butch for his ability to change and grow. There are so many bands out there that I think are great, but any one of their songs sounds very much like any other. With Butch you almost always get something different, but happily, it always seems to be a GOOD different. I think one of the great things about Butch is that he does what he wants to do - not what is expected, and that's one of the things that made his earlier music good too. So, in a nutshell, I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and if you don't like Letters, my review is probably not going to change your tastes. Butch is an awesome guy, who plays awesome music, please stick with him!

14/02/05: John Elway - megjimp@cableone.net
Rating: 50
Like others, I think this guy is probably the most underappreciated guy in rock. I've enjoyed everything he's done, especially the Marvelous 3 discs and his first awesome solo release. When this came out last summer I was truely devestated at how slow and mellow it was, so I shelved it until last week. I figured I'd give it a fresh couple of spins to see if my initial reaction was off. Nope, I still think this is weak. Yeah, there are a few solid tunes here, but even these would be weaker songs if placed on any of his past three releases. I can honestly say, I'll probably never listen to this again as long as I live. That's how bummed I am about it.

09/02/05: Marc Vanway - vanway@hotmail.com
Rating: 40
The biggest disappointment of 2004. Butch allways has recorded incredible albums, but, from my point of view, this is a step behind. This album is too soft, and the songs doesn't have the hooks that Butch as made us be used to. I hope the next one is much better than this. I know Butch can do it.

11/12/04: Brian Thomas - islaguezul@hotmail.com
Rating: 95
I know this might be a slightly different review than the others on this site, but I have a different take on this CD than the others, I suppose. I want to use this review, mainly, to point out some of the highlights for me.
My coworker heard this CD playing on several occassions at the work place and he commented on how a lot of the songs are about California, it seems. I thought this was a good, albeit obvious, aspect to the songwriting on this CD. If you know much about Butch, you'll know that he spent a considerable amount of time living in LA, and I think this CD is a retrospective and lovingly digressive look at the memories and emotions he felt while living in California.
I suppose it is because of this fact that Letters really hits home with me. I am a native of California for the time being, and I have spent a considerable amount of time in Southern California. When I first read and listened to the lyrics of So At Last, I got gooseflesh all over my body. He lyrically painted the perfect picture of the same things I felt and remember about that time in my life. It's like he wrote that song while imagining floating in the waves as the sun set off on the western horizon, because that's exactly where I feel like I am when I hear it. I have to say that this song is a masterpiece and it evokes the most pleasant memories and emotions I had and felt, respectively, from my time spent in Southern California. It even made me want to go back, in a way, just help me relive some of those moments that I didn't really grasp onto and appreciate as I should have. Moments that Butch clearly did hold onto, closely and dearly to his heart.
As for Mixtape, this seems to be the big single for the CD, if you can call it big (Butch kind of went south of mainstream when he renounced his record label and split up Marv 3), but it really feels like it lacks in uniqueness. Butch is fantastic at story-telling, as everyone knows, but this song just feels weak in its impact on my mind and also feels like he is kind of stretching to have at least one radio worthy song on the record. The bridge actually detracts from the song, in my opinion, and the chorus is too much like his other, older songs in its melody. That's okay, though, because it's still a better song than a lot of the crap that is out there on the radio and MTV.
Don't Move is definitely a winner. This song is almost epic in its ability to make you want to sing along everytime you hear it. I see this song, if any, being the one to propel this CD into the mainstream. And if you don't have the bonus live disc, This is me... Justified and Stripped, I strongly recommend finding a copy just for the sake of hearing the acoustic version of Don't Move. He converts this song to unplugged form with timeless grace, as Butch can often do, and I actually like it better than the studio version, which is almost unthinkable. Really and truly an amazing song.
The rest of the songs are all catchy in their own way, and I really like most of them. The only reason I had to take a few points off of my rating is that I simply cannot make it through Race Cars and Goth Rock without skipping to the next track. I feel the CD would have been all the better if he had just left it off of there altogether, but hey, that's just my opinion. I guess I was never much of a fan of the extremely unconventional.
Keep up the good work, Butch. I think I'll forever be a fan if you keep putting out stuff of this caliber. Hopefully you'll be out in CA at the same time as me and I can see what is reputably one of the best live performances ever to grace the stage.

09/11/04: Harlan Nash - hbomb247@hotmail.com
Rating: 98
It boils down to this: If you're actually a fan of Butch and have been through Southgang, Floyd's Funk Revival, The Floyds, the Marvies and now as a solo artist, you will probably enjoy this album. Yes, it's a lot more stripped down and less "frenetic" than Butch has been in the past. But some of the album's deeper and more emotionally compelling moments are those that seem to be glossed over in the review here on the site. Which, by the way, is okay. Not everyone reacts the same way and given how many albums are reviewed here, I think it's got to be hard to always be completely involved in a CD. Especially when you know the audience who reads your reviews is looking for a particular sound or style. (NOTE: This is NOT a criticism of the site, just a thought of mine).

Anyhow, the only reason I give the album a couple of points off is the sequencing. But I have a hard time faulting Butch for this because I feel he truly has channelled a lot more of his personal feelings and experiences into this and where those used to result in quirky, up-tempo rockers, he's maturing and finding himself at new and deeper emotional levels and that's why there's a lot of depth and feeling in these tunes. As far as the songs themselves, as usual, no one in rock today tells a story quite like Butch and the production and song-writing are grade A, in my opinion.

Of particular note, if you had pre-ordered "Letters" from the record company's website, they sent out a live disc of Butch called "this is me...Justified and Stripped" which is an interesting and entertaining (and representative) take on Butch's live shows (at least the smaller venue shows.

For what it's worth, if you get to see the Butch Walker VS. American Hi-Fi shows, GO. DO NOT MISS THEM. Butch put on one of the most amazing and mesmerizing live performances I've ever been treated to. But if you can't, just try to pick up his solo stuff and dig around for the Marvelous 3 albums (including "Math and Other Problems").

04/11/04: Henrik Sjogren - Hsjogren@mail.tele.dk
Rating: 99
This is great, super songwriting great perfomance
Letters truly is a great album. If you see the album wherever you may go, get it as soon as you see it!!

03/11/04: Josue - kotzensue@hotmail.com
Rating: 85
This album has some AWESOME songs! Don't move it's a classic! Songs with the heart on hand, simply amazing.
Maybe a little laid back, but still is a really good album.

03/11/04: Bruno - brunotak@yahoo.com
Rating: 99
99% only because left of self centered gets 100%. I respect everybodies opinion, but giving an album 79% for not being as bombastic as previous album is not fair. Butch shows all of his songwriting quality and maturity in this album, and its definetly selling way better than his other albums, plus reaching new audiences with his tour with Avril Lavigne.

03/11/04: Patrick Reeves - preeves@banknorth.com
Rating: 90
I thought this album was a drastic change, and took about 5 listens to really become solid. I love the album and disagree with what most people thought were the best songs. I thought Joan, Thank You Note, and Promise were all excellent songs, and pretty much the only songs I couldnt' get into were #1 Summer Jam and Race Cars and Goth Rock. Great cd. Check it out.

02/11/04: Sean Patrick - Spatrick13@comcast.net
Rating: 100
I got hooked on Butch Walker with Marvelous 3 "Ready Sex Go". Big 80's sound, Def Lep type choruses, and clever song writing. I immediately bought the "Hey Album" and thought it was also very good. "Left of Self Centered" I thought was just a half step behind "Ready Sex Go". So when I heard "Letters" I was taken back a bit by it being stripped down. But after listening to it a few times, I found it to be just as good as "Ready Sex Go" and "Left of Self Centered". I feel the stand out tracks are "Mixtape"... "#1 Summer Jam"... "So at Last"... and "Don't Move". Infact, "Don't Move" to me a perfect ballad that should get airplay, along with "Mixtape" though I'm sure it won't. I hope Butch mixes the sound of this record with the sound of his last Marv 3 record and his first solo release and that record could turn out to be a perfect record. "Letters" is very, very good and deserves more airplay and more of a marketing plan. Butch is brillant and no one knows it.


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