Sunday January 3, 3pm.
Having performed alongside some of Australia’s finest, Walker was awarded Victorian Indigenous Performing Arts Award for Best New Talent in 2012. In recent years he has performed at some of the country’s best-loved festivals, including Woodford, Australasian Worldwide Music Expo, St Kilda Fest and Blue Mountains Music Festival and also taken the plunge into the Canadian festival circuit.
To define is to limit.
Blues, Americana, folk and gritty rock ‘n’ roll all play a part, but they come together to form a whole, something that isn’t anything but Benny Walker.
His latest album, Through The Forest is the mark of an artist comfortable in his ability to craft a song first, without the distraction of whether or not said song will ‘fit’. “When I pick the songs [that go on the album], they’re songs from me, so they’re always going to have some sort of familiarity,” Walker reasons.
Walker’s songwriting has grown and matured over the past half decade, and which in this instance, comes from somewhere a little different, a bit darker.
“I ran into a bit of a bout of anxiety I guess, so this was me kinda working through that, coming out the other side,” he says, specifically referencing the title of the record. “And at the end of the last album tour, I was enjoying it a lot, but was missing home, there was a bit of that. [And a bit of] feeling down and out.
All nine songs on Through The Forest are deeply personal – “Yeah, you’re opening yourself up, there are some pretty honest moments in the songs,” he attests – and it’s this honesty that really brings these songs together as a whole, despite their sonic differences.
These differences though, on their own, are powerful – the title track with it’s darkly thrumming acoustic guitar; the lilting, country-tinged ‘Now That I’m Broken’; the slow-burning ‘Will There Be A Light’, replete with Garrett Costigan’s exquisite pedal steel playing; the almost desperate vocal delivery on melancholy closer ‘Dear Hometown’. Each song, while being a part of this whole, is a gem in its own right.
Overall, Through The Forest is Walker’s strongest work to date, the mark of an artist who’s only getting better with time. “I wanted to come out with a record that had honesty,” he says. “[The album] is a mood, and I’m still growing too, there’s lots of that in there.”
Walker is indeed growing. As an artist, as a songwriter, as a person – Through The Forest is testament to this, an album which shows there’s certainly no limit to Walker’s abilities.
Samuel J. Fell