Saturday, June 17, 2017

Benjamin Booker - Witness


A recently posted Instagram photo of Benjamin Booker from Christmas 2005 shows Booker with a Stratocaster. "My first Fender! White for Jimi and Kurt. Smashed on stage at Lollapalooza in the summer of 2014." Booker believes music is eternal, but instruments are ephemeral. That, or he just likes smashing shit. In any case, Booker embodies Cobain's punk spirit while being a student of classic rock, soul and blues. The sound of his debut could be compared to that of Chuck Berry fronting Nirvana, although his voice defies easy comparison. On Witness, Booker tempers the garage-punk sound on which he built his name, favouring those older influences, especially on the gospel-infused title track.

On his debut, Booker sang that "the future is slow coming", which recalled "A Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke (who is evoked on Witness in the string intro to "Believe"). He wasn't contradicting Cooke's message, but adding "it's gonna take longer than we thought". Booker is the change he wishes to see in the world, and Witness is the sound of him settling in for the long haul.

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