New Orleans rocker Benjamin Booker caught on in certain circles a few years back when he released a self-titled explosion of roots-rock and garage-y blues. But in the intervening years, he’s done a little digging, gotten down to his own roots and bored into the basic facts what it means to be a person. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this deep-down dig to get at some core, basic principles resulted in some of the most, layered and complex music of Booker’s career. We can hear the first taste of that new sound on Booker’s just shared track “Believe.”
“[This] song in particular is about how people tend to try to fill voids in their life with different things: religion or politics, or people join the military or things like that, just trying to fill this void,” he said in an interview with Time about his upcoming album Witness. “But this song is about what we talked about earlier: you are the solution to the problems that you have, and you have to dig deeper. That’s what I’m hoping people take away from this song. That change and that void is only going to be filled by you.”
Booker explained to the magazine that his soul-searching was inspired by a few different sources from Satre to Dom Delillo and even soul singer Mavis Staples.
“She is 76, and at this point in her life is focused on just a couple things,” he told the magazine. “She just wants to be present and enjoy the things she’s doing every day, and then spend time with her family and friends. For me, coming back, that was just what I wanted to do. That was just the main focus now: enjoy every day and be present.”
In spite of the themes of the track, Booker does appear to be enjoying himself. His raspy croon floats over an easy strum and a string section, searching for little moments to accentuate his bare-bones delivery as he looks for a sense of purpose. It’s a great song and you can hear it up top.
Witness is out on June 2.