Steve Walsh and Jerome Mazza Keep the Torch Lit on Masterful Black Butterfly

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A lot of folks thought Steve Walsh was through with the music business. Thankfully he was convinced to record another album by Khalil Turk, president of Escape Music. Good work Khalil!

The collection begins with an absolutely scorching track called Born In Fire with dueling lead vocals from Steve Walsh and Pinnacle Point vocalist Jerome Mazza. The result is an instant classic. Remarkably, Walsh still has some great vocals, including all of his high register!  Laying down some of the tastiest lead guitar you’ll ever hear is one of melodic rock’s Wrecking Crew, Tommy Denander. Not only can Denander play, but he can write songs – all 12 tracks on Black Butterfly were co-written by Denander.

For fans of Walsh, The Piper is a song you may already know as it was included on a project Denander put together a few years back. It features some progressive rock textures and a keyboard sound that gives the song a very ethereal feel while still rocking. Walsh delivers lyrics that really take you back to the kind of writing he did long ago with Kerry Livgren in Kansas. Grace and Nature is a haunting song with very interesting keys and a chorus that descends from above. The vocal tracks are meticulously dubbed in giving the song more substance. Dear Kolinda is another track that will fill your headphones with bliss! The song starts innocently enough but then builds up into a wall of vocal sounds and showcases Walsh opining like an elder statesman storyteller.

Winds of War is a great mix between acoustic, electric and keyboard sounds. Jerome Mazza rocks the microphone solo on this beautifully written and played song about one of the world’s great continuing tragedies. Listen to Tommy Denander’s amazing guitar solo on this track. Hint: release this as a single! Tanglewood Tree is a quirky, mystical tale that makes Black Butterfly an album of the unexpected. Walsh sings a delicate falsetto that eventually evolves into one of the album’s most memorable vocal deliveries. The chorus is instantly catchy and Walsh and Denander end up writing something completely unique and curious.

Now and Forever opens with some ping-pong like sound effects which give way to Mazza who stretches vocally like a classically trained singer. The chorus “life goes on” sent chills up my spine. I’m thinking Tommy Denander could help resurrect the careers of some musicians needing an idea. Because lyrically speaking he writes beautifully and Jerome Mazza closes the deal. Warsaw may be the most memorable song on Black Butterfly. A story of a girl from Warsaw, in the future? Possibly. The guitar parts are pure 80’s and reminds me of something from the Chess Soundtrack. Ultimately it’s another song about the toll of war. And Walsh just kills it on this.

Black Butterfly will keep you off balance. Tunes like Nothing But Nothing and Hell or High Water have sounds and vocals and guitar parts that are rich and lush. It’s modern but rooted in the traditional classic rock framework.

Mercy on Me is another powerful home run with Mazza on vocals. A tale of a life changed buttressed by some great guitar work and a chorus, that again, seems to descend from somewhere above. The lyrics will make you want to repent from bad behavior.

Fittingly, the album closes with Billy Carbone Is Dead. A metaphor for a society losing it’s grip on itself. From politicians to wars to Hollywood. Rather timely with all that is happening right now in tinsel town. The music gallops right along with Walsh’s story of the evening news. And what might be sad is that this could be Steve Walsh’s swan song in reality. There is a hint of finality to the song that makes one wonder if this will be the last time we hear from him.

I hope not. Walsh, Mazza and Denander have delivered an amazing album of interesting music to keep the melodic rock torch burning. A must have for any fan of progressive rock!

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