Ben Walker “Banish Air from Air”

Folkroom Records, 2023

British folk music at its most thought-provoking.

Ben Walker is such an interesting character. A post-grad in Mathematics and a classically trained virtuoso on the guitar. Described by Total Guitar Magazine as ‘one of the best acoustic guitarists in the world right now’. ‘Banish Air from Air’ is his second solo album. He has assembled a number of different voices, both male and female all bringing different qualities and nuances to his music. It makes it such a rewarding listen.

The album is a mixture of instrumentals, self-penned songs, and reimagined poems. Together they form a journey that attempts to explore the relationship between man and nature. It feels like music from another time. Folk in its purest form.

I’ve been a mathematician as long as I’ve been a musician. I’d usually default to music or science to describe the world, but folk superstitions offer their own explanations of things we’re still figuring out. We’ve got hypotheses which go back centuries, from folk myths to religion, from alchemy to science.” Walker explains. This approach is beautifully demonstrated on the mystical track ‘Yew of Barrowdale’ with Emily Mae Winters providing the vocal. An original composition with some words borrowed from  Wordsworth’s poem ‘Yew Trees’. With its sparse blend of guitar and strings. It is worthy of Maddy Prior or June Tabor at their absolute pomp. This is followed by the moody ‘Eggshells’ sung by Louis Brennen whose voice is so rich. It has that wonderful murder ballad tradition.

The slightly distorted guitar of ‘Neptune’ could sit very easily in Tubular Bells along with an excellent violin accompaniment. The percussion-heavy ‘King Storm’ follows yet another path this time with Lucy Alexander on vocals. That’s the beauty of this collection You don’t quite know what’s coming next, but it doesn’t matter. The album is a journey. Just close your eyes and allow it to take you on it. You won’t be disappointed

Described by Mark Radcliffe as a ‘great guitarist, composer, and producer’ Ben Walker deserves recognition from a wider audience. Hopefully with this offering that will be achieved.


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