He’s been applauded for his fiery performance at Newport Folk Festival. He was picked to open Jack White’s latest tour. He’s being acknowledged as a guitar wunderkind for his combination of deft touch, slaying, and gritty, bluesy style. For many, this would mark the high points of a long career, but for Benjamin Booker this is only the beginning, as he is just 25 years old.
The accolades bestowed on the Tampa-born, New Orleans-based Booker are well deserved, and his self-titled debut record of electrifying blues-rock only validates the hype. On the classic rock numbers, like the stunning opener, “Violent Shiver”, you wouldn’t be the first to think that Chuck Berry was reincarnated. On the gritty, garage rock on numbers like “Always Waiting”, “Chippewa”, and the fantastic “Have You Seen My Son”, these tracks beckon to The Black Keys in their early days or San Francisco/Oakland area artists like Ty Segall and B. Hamilton. Like these great artists, Booker shows a great ability to craft together infectious hooks and just rock out. Add his raspy voice that strongly hints to Louis Armstrong, and you get the feel that you’re at a classic rock ‘n roll show. This feeling isn’t any more apparent than the slow burning, rapturously climatic “Spoon Out My Eyeballs”.
Booker also shows a deft touch with the acoustic and electric guitars on the slower, bluesy tunes, such as “Wicked Waters”, “I Thought I Heard You Screaming”, and “By the Evening”. It is on these tracks where his voice really shines, giving the songs that southern blues feel. It’s like listening to a veteran songwriter play the blues on the patio, but this bluesman is still decades away from collecting Social Security.
For all the hype and expectations, Booker’s debut album is euphoric and masterful. It’s an album that will likely be on the many “Best of” lists of 2014, and it might be an album that is long remembered years from now.
Benjamin Booker arrives on August 19, and you can order it at the Benjamin Booker Store, iTunes, and Amazon. Booker and his band are on tour right now. Tour dates with links to purchase tickets are below.
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