What do you get when you mix a true blue Aussie, with Americana rock and understated cool? What about when you mix Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen and John Mayer? Roots, folk and blues? The answer to all of the above is Benny Walker, and his latest LP Through The Forest.
Through The Forest is his follow up record to acclaimed 2012 Sinners & Saints and slightly darker and more somber in both content and overall feel. As the title suggests, the records overarching message is one of surviving a battle, of fighting your way through tough times and coming out the other side victorious. About making it Through The Forest. Ah.
In a deeply personal and honest account, one of the lingering themes in the gentle melodies Benny Walker presents is self deprecation. The subtlety in somber tracks like Now That I Am Broken and No Refunds nudging this message the most. In contrast, opening and title track Through The Forest and the twinkling Time play with echoey guitars and nostalgic country vibes, ticking those boxes nicely. The relaxed, suave and sexy cool of Don’t Cut Me Down is upped by new single The Fool, the latter the jazziest on the record with an awesome introduction of backing singers reminiscent of Chain Of Fools or Give Me One Reason. A nod again to the support vocals in Will There Be A Light, with layered harmonies so beautiful I couldn’t get enough. Not that it’s needed – Walker’s vocal performance is astounding in itself. Closing the record out is Will I Know You, sounding like it came straight of a +Live+ record while Dear Hometown is exactly what you’d expect, a sweet love letter to home.
The singer-songwriter from Echuca has produced not just a great collection of songs, but an album that feels like a complete of body work. One whole piece of art, with stirring messages and threads that link one song to the next. So this Bryan Adams/John Mayer/Bruce Springsteen type artist truly is the real deal. Doing it all while looking like a buff Matt Corby. And he’s touring. I’ll be at the bar. Or breaking into the dressing room.