Butch Walker, ‘Afraid of Ghosts’

The wildly gifted, criminally underheard Walker has had a circuitous career, bounding from late ’80s metal (SouthGang) via late ’90s alt-rock (Marvelous 3) to a solid new-millennium career as both a solo artist exploring power pop and rootsier sounds and an in-demand producer to pop, rock, and country stars (Pink, Fall Out Boy, Taylor Swift). Walker’s albums and live shows have often proved to be wildly raucous affairs, but the Georgia native slows his pace for his seventh album, “Afraid of Ghosts.” Produced by buddy Ryan Adams, and featuring guest shots from Bob Mould and Johnny Depp, “Ghosts” is a gorgeous, contemplative effort rooted in loss: familial — explicitly including the death of his father and a family friend — and perhaps romantic also, as the album is suffused with melancholy. But that wistfulness is heated by strong melodies, real-world insights, and warm-blooded instrumentation that invites you into the stories. Among the best are the churning, sexy menace of “Bed on Fire” and the pensive “Father’s Day,” which finds Walker looking back at his dad and forward with his son. (Out Tuesday)SARAH RODMAN

ESSENTIAL “Bed on Fire”