This bombshell of a debut album ain’t no stereotypical anything. It’s a gorgeous mix of blues and punk and soul and rock ‘n’ roll, and while it was made in New Orleans, it comes from a man raised by a religious, military-based family in Florida. Booker’s tale isn’t one of triumphing out of the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina, rather it’s one of emerging slightly unscathed from a life of drugs and doubt, and with a talent that is about to shake the world of music.
Deciding which is more entrancing, 25-year-old Booker’s haggard, blues-soaked voice, or his exemplary shredding skills, is tough as hell. Together they create a rock record that hasn’t been made in decades. But Benjamin Booker, released August 19th via ATO Records, is far from a rewrite from the past – it’s full of an updated energy that easily distinguishes it as a modern-day masterpiece.
There’s a lot of uptempo boogie to songs such as “Violent Shiver” and “Wicked Waters”, but definitely pay attention to the lyrics of the record, as they often reveal a darker side of things. This is especially true with slowed down numbers like “I Thought I Heard You Screaming”, a song Booker explains in a recent Noisey interview as being inspired by hallucinations he was having during one of the worst periods of his life.
Maybe the most indelible of the debut, however, is the mesmerizing “Have You Seen My Son?”, a charging rocker that teases you with a stop not once, but twice, and lays out a different kind of song both times it gets back up and going. It’s a sadness when the track actually does come to an end. Well played, Booker.
See Booker tear through “Have You Seen My Son?” below, on his recent Conan appearance, and know the guitarist has also picked up notice this year by touring alongside Jack White, playing plenty of major festivals and guesting on other late nights such as Letterman.
We all should be at the edge of our seat for this new guy and everything he’s about to offer us.
Check out this week’s playlist to hear “Chippewa” from Benjamin Booker’s self-titled debut.