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Steve Walsh: Black Butterfly
Steve Walsh - Black Butterfly CD Album Review

Steve Walsh: Black Butterfly

Melodic Hard Rock/AOR
3.5/5.0

The roots of the new Steve Walsh (Kansas, Streets, et al) album go back to 2015 and his association with guitarist and composer Tommy Denander. Shortly after retiring from classic rock legends Kansas, Walsh guested on Denander's fourth Radioactive album, where he did vocals for The Piper (included here). One thing lead to another, and Walsh, Denander, and Escape Music founder Khalil Turk hooked up for this new solo album, Black Butterfly.

Steve Walsh Photo

Steve Walsh

But this collaboration gets a bit more curious. It features an obscure vocalist in Jerome Mazza. He scored some fame with an ancient Christian rock band, Angelica, back in the early Nineties and now sings for Pinnacle Point. He duets with Walsh on the opener Born In Fire, and then takes lead vocals on three songs: Winds Of War, Mercy On Me, and Now Until Forever. Even more curious is that Mazza can have the same timbre as Walsh in his voice. I found it difficult, a times, to distinguish between the two. Which begs the question, whose solo album is this?

But moving on, Black Butterfly finds Walsh in his proper context, performing melodic hard rock in an AOR envelope. Honestly, however, I've never enjoyed Walsh's vocal style outside of his Kansas context. Actually some 15 years ago when hearing the live album Device Voice Drum, I felt that his voice had made a turn for the worse. He seemed to strain to stay in key or reach higher notes. Nevertheless, at some 66 years of age, Walsh sounds pretty darn good within this album. This is probably because Denander is an exceptional music composer, one who can tune the songs to a vocalist's style and range. Walsh adapts as well and I'm nearly convinced. He's quite impressive on Tanglewood Tree, Grace And Nature, The Piper, and the rollicking Billy Carbone Is Dead. On the other hand, Jerome Mazza sounds pretty good too, especially on the rock ballad Now Until Forever. Maybe Walsh needs to keep looking over his shoulder or, at the very least, Mazza should audition for Kansas.

In the end, my conclusion about Steve Walsh's Black Butterfly sways between the two poles of curious interest and subjective ambivalence. It's a decent album, but something I'm not sure I'll revisit all that often. You may feel differently.



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The Bottom Line

My conclusion about Steve Walsh's Black Butterfly sways between the two poles of curious interest and subjective ambivalence. It's a decent album, but something I'm not sure I'll revisit all that often. You may feel differently.

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