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Articles Home » 2017 Articles » Walsh, Steve - 2017 Black Butterfly
Walsh, Steve - 2017 Black Butterfly

ARTIST: Walsh, Steve
ALBUM: Black Butterfly
LABEL: Escape Music
YEAR: 2017


LINEUP: Steve Walsh - lead and backing vocals, piano * Tommy Denander - guitars, keyboards * Jerome Mazza - lead vocals (#5, #7, #11) * Brian Anthony - bass, string arrangements * Peter Yttergren - drums, percussion * Steve Overland - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Born In Fire (Duet With Jerome Mazza) * 02 The Piper * 03 Grace And Nature * 04 Dear Kolinda * 05 Winds Of War * 06 Tanglewood Tree * 07 Now Until Forever * 08 Warsaw * 09 Nothing But Nothing * 10 Hell Or High Water * 11 Mercy On Me * 12 Billy Carborne Is Dead


WEBLINKS: Official Website | FB Page

Just because he retired from Kansas a few years back doesn't mean he retired from the music industry. Nosiree. 'Black Butterfly' is Steve Walsh's first solo outing for a while, and he joins up with musical talent Jerome Mazza, last seen treading the boards with Danish six-stringer Torben Enesvolden, and their project Pinnacle Point, who are signed to Perris Records. 'Black Butterfly' is definitely something but I can tell you what it isn't. For starters, it's not Kansas, both old or modern. It's not Streets either, nor is it 'Scheemer Dreamer' era solo material. Walsh has always leaned towards the progressive side of the pastoral paddock, and was probably the driving force of that style when he was in Kansas. Even more so than Kerry Livgren. But let's not kid ourselves. This is not a progressive rock outing. It is pure melodic hard rock all the way. Probably not representative of his typical musical style, which I'll talk about below.

The Songs
On 'Black Butterfly', we get a mixed bag. Tough vocals, big guitars, the obligatory keyboard runs and a strong back-end rhythm section. I haven't heard Tommy Denander's guitar work for some time, and that's probavbly deliberate on my part. 'Born In Fire' sees Steve and Jerome share lead vocals, and this is a fiery opener for sure, with the same sort of energy that you'd hear on a Seventh Key album for instance. In fact, Billy Greer's band is a good barometer for some of this record. This is confirmed when 'The Piper' kicks in. The chorus is real good. Probably my fave track. 'Grace And Nature' was an interesting listen, reflective lyrics combined with moody vocals. Not so good was 'Dear Kolinda'. The style-wise approach to this was strange. Much better was 'Winds Of War', with Mazza on lead vocal. This guy can sing.

'Tanglewood Tree' didn't hit the mark for me either, a tangled assembly of ideas that were too loose to be cohesive. 'Now Until Forever' drops into middle gear, melodic with some lovely vocal harmonies. I'm not sure what 'Warsaw' was all about. A darky depressing Eastern European story of despair? No, not if you heard the bouncy trance-like keyboards applied liberally by Tommy Denander. OMG, what is this? I could say the same about the dreadful synth pattern on 'Hell Or High Water'. The only redeeming feature is the chorus which only just saves this. 'Mercy On Me' is again highlighted by the magnificent vocal of Mazza, though the slow-lane tempo for the chorus was just plain dumb. Who's idea was that? The album finishes with the rock-out excursion of 'Billy Carborne Is Dead'. It's ok but I need to play it a few times to understand what the song is about.

In Summary
Well, I feel ambivalent about 'Black Butterfly' after dissecting it. Mostly it's a good listen, but also mostly uneven. Having Jerome Mazza singing lead vocals was both a blessing and a curse. This guy is seriously good. In the same mould as Jon Elefante in my books. The songs he appeared on were the best of the bunch, which probably means he showed up Walsh in the vocal department. So the executive decision to bring him into the project was not the best one to make, even if it was well intended. The arrangements on some songs simply didn't work. If this truly was a Steve Walsh album we wouldn't have dancey trancey keyboard music all over the place. It's not a Radioactive album for goodness sake. There I've said my piece. Investigate with caution.

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#1 | melodiapositiva on December 10 2017 10:32:24
I agree with you George, an uneven album but even so, I like it a lot! Jerome Mazza is like a rejuvenated Walsh, and his songs are the best, mostly because Steve's voice is broken and sounds really ugly. To me this album reminds me a lot of the Native Window project from a few a years ago (2009), with Billy Greer singing, and sometimes for Seventh Key. From now on I will take care of any album with Mazza on it, he's great!
#2 | reyno-roxx on December 10 2017 10:40:20
I think some great work has been achieved in covering up the main man's shortcomings.
#3 | Nick C on December 10 2017 11:02:35
I think it's okay, but I'm probably in a minority because my favourite of his solo releases is Glossolalia and I always hope for a similar dark, twisted (challenging?) album to be released by him. Absolutely love that album.
#4 | george_the_jack on December 15 2017 13:35:53
''The Piper'' was also in the latest Radioactive album and was one of my favourite songs of 2015. I think that version is slightly edgier.
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