Ten years into his solo career, Butch Walker has given himself more makeovers than the girls who attend his concerts, dressing up his pop songs in glam rock clothing one minute and dusty Americana threads the next. On Spade, he explores the seedy side of Hollywood with equal parts power pop and heartland rock & roll. Walker has walked that line before; “The Weight of Her,” the kick-off track from 2008’s Sycamore Meadows, isn’t too far removed from these guitar-driven epics. But Spade dedicates more time to Walker’s off-center vision of Americana than his other records, from the slinky, Exile-era Rolling Stones groove of “Sweethearts” to the thick Southern harmonies that fill “Dublin Crow.” Supporting Walker are a group of simpatico musicians known collectively as the Black Widows, who trade tangled guitar solos during the ballads and pepper the faster songs with gang vocals, turning what could’ve been a solo project into a proper band album. Members Fran Capitanelli and Chris Unck even claim nearly as many songwriting credits as Walker himself. The lyrics still focus on Walker’s own little world -- the girls he’s known, the drugs he’s done, the trouble he got into as an ‘80s wild child -- but Spade feels broader, fuller, more collective than those words suggest.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey