Exclusive: Butch Walker Premieres 'Afraid Of Ghosts' Album ft. Bob Mould & Johnny Depp

Noah Abrams
Butch Walker

In a music world troubled by declining sales and worried about how to make money from streaming, it's important for artists to have multiple skills -- more and more, artists need to have resumes like Butch Walker's.

What can't he do? He's a singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer; you can find his credits on songs from Keith Urban, Fall Out Boy, Taylor Swift, Weezer, Katy Perry, and others. Today Billboard is premiering a solo project from Walker, Afraid Of Ghosts. Listen below.

Unsurprisingly, Walker's album ranges widely in sound. There's low-key folk next to orchestral pop. At one moment, Walker launches into an acoustic ballad that sounds worthy of Springsteen's Nebraska, in the next, he'll be unfolding gauzy, spacious rock that might have been produced by U2's longtime collaborator Daniel Lanois.

Afraid Of Ghosts came together at Ryan Adams' PAX AM studios, and Adams -- another artist at ease playing multiple roles -- served as producer. Walker and Adams recorded live to tape over a four-day period. Guests on the record include the actor Johnny Depp and Bob Mould, known for his work in the seminal Minneapolis rock band Husker Du.

Walker's "nervously excited" about the album's release. He tells Billboard, "It's like sending your kids off to college or something." Walker compares Afraid of Ghosts to Richard Linklater's latest film Boyhood -- "but in an album form." That means it's way shorter than Boyhood's 165 minutes, but still tender and lovingly constructed.