Album Review: Benjamin Booker - "Witness"
Though the voice is familiar, nothing about Benjamin Booker‘s second LP, Witness, sounds remotely close to his self-titled debut, released back in 2014. The 27-year old has gone from New Orleans blues-based, punkish garage rock to full-blown sonic explosion. Elements of blues and punk still remain, but now they are merely ingredients to the funk, soul, and gospel compound. Witness bleeds all its ten tracks into one pleasantly produced 32-minute cohesive piece of music.
On Witness, Booker takes on more of the frontman/bandleader role as opposed to lead guitarist. The guitar riffs, although still there, are no longer the main attraction. Lyrically, Witness is political and personally hard-hitting, but you come out of it feeling nothing but spiritually uplifted. Tracks like "Witness" and "Believe" are full-fledged gospel tunes; even Mavis Staples guests on the title track. Background singers, a beautiful string section and more overall noise, allow you to get lost in the music as Booker’s raspy croon layers over top of it all.
Benjamin Booker rose from relative obscurity to one of indie rock's most unique voices over the last two years with his debut record. Paths to take for LP2 were wide open, but Booker answered all expectations by simply providing the unexpected.