Part of a new breed of bluesmen, New Orleans-based guitarist Benjamin Booker draws equally from postwar electric blues and trashy garage punk. This much was evident from his eponymous debut, released on ATO Records in August of 2014. He recorded the effort with producer Andrija Tokic, who helmed the debut by kindred spirits and labelmates Alabama Shakes. He followed its release with touring in 2014, which included a Lead Belly jam session with Jack White that seemed a bit like a passing of the torch.
Such success suggested Booker was an overnight sensation, and it is true the Tampa Bay native had a sudden rise to success. After spending some time in Gainesville and New Orleans, he returned to his home in Florida and had been playing in a duo with drummer Max Norton -- the two were billed as Booker & Norton -- for just over a year prior to signing to ATO Records. Subsequently, Booker went out as a solo artist while retaining Norton as his main collaborator, with Tokic helping to fill out the sound in the studio. The self-titled Benjamin Booker came out a few months after its recording, appearing in August of 2014 and garnering its fair share of critical acclaim.
Early the following year, Jack White's label both hosted and released Booker's concert album Live at Third Man Records. In early 2016, looking for a new perspective to fuel his songwriting, Booker spent some time living in Mexico City. It was there he wrote much of the material for his ATO follow-up, beginning with "Witness," a collaboration with Mavis Staples that was Booker's response to racist acts of violence. The album, also called Witness, was released in the summer of 2017. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine