New Reels: ‘The Future Is Slow Coming’ by Benjamin Booker

New video combines two songs from his debut album to make a powerful commentary on police violence and racial attitudes both past and present.

Benjamin Booker is a Virginian singer/songwriter whose eponymous debut LP made a bit of a splash last year with it’s garage blues-rock sound and his emotionally charged vocal sound. Having received plaudits from critics and fans alike, and with appearances on Letterman and Later.. with Jools Holland as well as playing various festivals in the last couple of years it would seem that Booker’s star is rising, not in a stratospheric sense, but enough to get his soulful, from-the-gut music noticed by the kind of people who like their music like that.

And so we get this new video from Booker, which combines two songs from that debut album, ‘Slow Coming’ and ‘Wicked Waters’, to create a compelling soundtrack to a film that explores maybe the most contentious issue in America at the moment. Set in a past time that’s never made explicit but looks a lot like the 40’s or 50’s, the issue of police brutality and the killing of black citizens by white cops is explored in a way that is clearly intended to echo recent events.

Beautifully shot and directed by James Lees, I had to watch it twice in a row so blown away was I by it the first time around. I honestly can’t think of a combination of music and film that has affected me as much as this in a long time. What Lees and Booker have given us here is an intelligent and searing 8 and a half minutes that does what all art should do – it says something about contemporary society, and enlightens the viewer by saying look at how little times have changed, look at how slow coming the future really is.

As Booker recently told NPR “I couldn’t understand how these issues I was reading about in books about the 1950s… could still be unresolved  We’ve all got iPhones and are talking about taking people to Mars, but look at how much we haven’t changed.” Look indeed.

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