Crossing the Atlantic without drowning and then successfully exploding musically on the other side is notoriously hard to do. Sam Smith did it. One Direction did it. Many years ago, Coldplay did it. Must be something about white guys peddling easy pop music. Benjamin Booker on the other hand, hasn’t even quite hit the big leagues (in the indie league) made it in his native USA, so of course nobody in the UK knows who he is. Hint: You absolutely should.
Booker is a native of Virginia, lives and began playing in New Orleans, after studying journalism at the University of Florida. Currently 25 (the same age as the glorious Taylor Swift) he’s received high praise for his roaring and energising guitar riffs and his raspy vocals. He released his self-titled debut in late summer of 2014. Of his self-described ‘blues influenced garage rock’ music. The people who heard it, few they may be, did in fact enjoy it. Every track is something you have not been listening to enough, especially if you are mired in popular genres. Any of them could be your favourite – ‘Old Hearts’ is the most upbeat musically, with a tingle-inducing mid-song riff. ‘Slow Coming’ is the best example of Booker’s mature and powerful lyrics: paired with the first gentle pace on the album it is stunning.
However it is ‘Violent Shiver’ you listen to if you have no idea who Booker is. It is the song he performed when he appeared live on Jools Holland. If the track can reach him and his audience, you no longer have an excuse. When you are done, you will instantly want to hear more – buying his album and listening to it all in one great hour cannot be advocated enough.