Austin's Walker Lukens had a breakout year with the release of the full-length album 'Devoted' last summer, earning national attention from outlets like American Songwriter, who praised his ability to create towering pillars of sound.? ?NPR's All Songs Considered took it one step further, as critic Robin Hilton compared discovering Walker's music to the process of falling in love, saying Even on my worst days, this is a fantastic record.
Asked to describe his music, Lukens doesn't have a clear answer. That's a very difficult question for me, he says. Maybe 'like Stephen Malkmus moved into the Brill Building with Bacharach and David' or 'the toughest disciple of Fleetwood Mac that you've never heard?'
Jokes aside, Lukens will have no problem avoiding labels for his new music. Hopefully on this record people will stop using the word 'folk' to describe my songs, he says. I was unafraid this time around to take influence from all of the records that I love.
Lukens wrote the songs on 'Devoted' during a year of self-described 'bourgeois homelessness.' After losing his nine-to-five job, he opted to pursue a relentless touring schedule: traveling across the U.S, Italy and France. When not on the road, he found time to become a regular at some of New York City's top music venues, including a popular residency at Lower East Side fixture Pianos.
I basically adhered to a strictly 'say yes' show policy, he says. I spent months traveling and sleeping on couches, floors, and in the back of my car before settling in Austin. Along the way, I wrote this record.
Refreshed and inspired by his travels, and with reaffirmed devotion to his music, Lukens has made his best record to date. 'Devoted' is full of lush compositions, imbued with the kind of intricate subtleties that compel a closer listen on a good pair of headphones.
These songs are about not having the things that you want yet. It's not necessarily bad, you know. It makes you work harder, Lukens says. I try to be tongue-in-cheek about it, because musicians telling you 'how hard art is' gets annoying. But putting this much time and energy into something that doesn't make you any money is hardly a career choice. It's a strange lifestyle choice.
More recently, Lukens has put together a 5-piece backing band called The Side Arms, who have already shared stages with acts like Band of Horses and The Heartless Bastards and are gearing up for a national tour this summer.