Walker Lukens has been called 'one of the best songwriters in Texas (Free Press Houston.) The Austin-based, Houston-bred singer, multi-instrumentalist has been called 'wonderfully inventive (NPR World Cafe,) a 'non-sexually intimidating version of Prince (Austin Chronicle,) and a 'veteran balladeer with sudden indie rock ambitions (Indy Week.) Walker thinks its important that you realize his name is not Walter.
In 2013, he released his first full length record, Devoted. It received praise from outlets like NPRs All Songs Considered, American Songwriter, Austin American Statesman, Austin Chronicle, and Billboard and took Lukens and his backing band, The Side Arms, all over the US.
After meeting Spoon drummer Jim Eno in a bar, Walker & The Side Arms started recording new music at with him at his studio, Public Hi-Fi. Their first collaboration, 'Every Night, has been streamed almost a million times now. Their second collaboration, 'Lifted from Never Understood EP (Modern Outsider) spent 8 weeks on the specialty commercial radio charts and garnered Walker spots at festivals across the country.
Walker's new album Tell It To The Judge will release on September 22nd, 2017.
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.