“Hopefully, on this record, people will stop using the word ‘folk’ to describe my songs,” says Walker Lukens, an Austin-based songwriter whose newest album, Devoted, hits stores today. “I was unafraid this time around to take influence from all of the records that I love, and it resulted in the most adventurous record I’ve ever put out. There’s some rock stuff, 60s pop stuff, piano ballads and R&Bish vocal loop songs.”
There’s a bit of Harry Nilsson and Burt Bacharach in his sound, too, a result of Lukens’ recent decision to stop relying so heavily on the guitar. Written on the road, Devoted is the sound of a songwriter who’s as comfortable playing solo shows — usually accompanied by his Electronharmonix 2880 loop station — as he is fronting his new backing band, The Side Arms. Some songs are stripped down; others stack Lukens’ influences into towering pillars of sound, mixing progressive pop melodies with the squelching guitars of Clinton-era indie rock.
“I named this record Devoted because most of these songs came right after I got out of NYC for a while and went on an incredible tour that reaffirmed for me that I wanted to continue pursuing what I’ve been since I was a young teenager: [a career as] a musician,” he adds. “These songs are about not having the things that you want yet. It’s not necessarily bad, you know. It makes you work harder. 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.”