Benjamin Booker – Witness
Benjamin Booker’s 2014 debut album was very good. And it was successful enough that he could have pumped out another one that sounded exactly the same and eked away at building on the following he garnered after its release.
But, on Witness, he’s pushed himself to explore a new side of his music. While it kinda feels like he’s still figuring out where he’s most comfortable musically, it makes for a fascinating ride. One that feels both experimental and familiar at the same time, and one that never gets boring.
Booker further delves into the soul, blues and R&B hinted at on his eponymous debut, keeping the elements of garage rock that gave it so much grunt.
‘Right On Ya’ and ‘Off The Ground’ are Dirtbombs-esque blasts of soulful garage rock, ‘The Slow Drag Under’ has Booker aping the groove and attitude of T-Rex, while ‘Believe’ would slot perfectly onto a new Alabama Shakes record.
One of the best things about Witness is the way that Booker mixes the gruffness of his natural delivery with traditionally beautiful musical elements.
For example, the strings on ‘Motivation’ are an elegant foil for his gritty rasp, the piano lends a sense of intimacy to the barroom ballad ‘Carry’ and the gospel choir on ‘Witness’ a beautiful bed for his powerful, heavily rhythmic lead (and Mavis Staples’ guest spot is as brilliant as we’ve come to expect).
It might sound like Booker is still figuring out the kind of artist he wants to be, but it’s so much fun being alongside him on this trip through some of the best classic rock styles.