Confidence – the essence of cool

US singer/songwriter Brandon Walker’s first CD has only six tracks, but each one strikes a resonant chord.

By DAVID ALEX NAHMOD
October 16, 2010 21:56
3 minute read.
BRANDON WALKER: ‘For the most part, when I write,

Walker 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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His gentle voice and the soft features on his youthful face hearken back to the deeply personal singer/songwriter genre of the 1970s. Artists like James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Harry Chapin brought the sensibilities they acquired during the Peace and Love years of the 1960s into the next decade.

By the time Brandon Walker was born, the 1960s and ’70s had already faded into history. But the soulfully intense young man, the product of a Jewish upbringing, was determined to make his mark.

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“I grew up around Baltimore and started getting into music when my parents inherited an old upright piano from an uncle who had passed away. They invested in piano lessons, and I took to it pretty keenly. I joined a few bands over the years and continued to cultivate my chops in rock, blues, funk and jam band styles,” Walker explains.

He learned how creative he could be when, in his first songwriting class, he was assigned to write a Christmas song. “I knew that most good songs have to come from an honest place in order to resonate with people, so I wrote about my Christmas experience.”

The result was “Chinese Food on Christmas,” a humorous number in which Walker reflects on how Jews in the US might spend Christmas Day when the rest of the country shuts down. The accompanying video made quite a splash on YouTube and is now a Yuletide staple on Shalom TV, a Jewish network available on American cable systems.

One year after this first song, he had another Jewish- based inspiration. “Someone from birthright Israel got in touch with me and asked if I’d be interested in creating a Pessah video for them,” he recounts. “Of course I was thrilled to do it, and soon after that, my friend Matt Leavey and I came up with the concept of a bad-ass Moses who goes around town parting things. As it turned out, the Moses character I developed in the video rode around on a little girl’s bicycle and lived with his mom. But he did it all with confidence, and confidence is the essence of cool, I think. Still trying to figure that one out.”

The resulting video, Get Down with Moses, has scored nearly 100,000 YouTube hits.



“Judaism influences me musically in that I still bust out into some songs from synagogue every now and then, nearly always jokingly. But it goes to show how catchy some of those melodies are. It’s been a long, long time since I learned those songs in Hebrew school, but they definitely stuck with me. Catchy melodies are crucial to writing pop music, which is what I do.”

And now Walker offers One Step Behind, his first CD.

It’s simply produced and features only six tracks. But these lovely, heartfelt tunes stay with you. Walker, who wrote most of the material, performs vocally and on keyboard. The opener, “Foggy Window,” is a haunting romantic ballad. It’s followed by the even more romantic title tune. Then comes “Puzzle,” an upbeat, somewhat humorous muse on lust.

The self-produced disc has an impressive technical polish.

It is refreshing, in this techno era, to hear a young, fresh vocalist who speaks and sings from his heart.

“For the most part, when I write, I draw less from my experiences as a Jew and mostly from those universal experiences like love. Love is such a broad, yet hard-hitting subject. There are so many types of love songs that can be written. If you look at the charts, 90 percent of the hit songs out there are about love.”

What comes next for Brandon Walker? “Lately, I’ve been writing, recording and pitching some of my popular songs to music publishers. I’m playing some shows at coffee houses and recording.”

For more information on Brandon Walker’s One Step Behind, visit www.BrandonWalkerMusic.com

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