Review: A Book For Wanderers

A Book For Wanderers is the debut effort from Niagara Falls-based Anthony Botting, and one that comes with such a solid production of killer songs that you’d be hard-pressed to believe it was his first outing.

That’s not to say Botting is new to making music; he’s been recording with various bands for over 10 years, having first picked up a guitar at the tender age of 13 (we’re teenage rockers ourselves here at Spindle, so we can definitely empathise). Everything he learnt about his craft in that time is evident in this record: it’s solid, assured, twisty and evocative, all at once, packing in ferocious energy even in its most reflective moments.

ABFW coverNot that there are many; A Book For Wanderers is, appropriately enough, infused with a restless, driving force that pushes everything along. It doesn’t stand still, and neither should you. Refreshing in today’s more laid-back music scene, in which a lot of music that purports to be rock seems to distort and echo as if lightly bouncing off the walls of a cave. Not so here! Everything is right up front: close, personal and pounding. We’re huge 90s fans here at Spindle, but if this isn’t your bag you may struggle with those parts of the album.

Botting’s voice, however, sure runs a gamut: for a sound that so closely resembles 90s pop-rock, his voice is infused with subtle, nuanced emotion, and at times his haunting timbre creates a nice counterpoint to the brash music around him. Interestingly, his sound is described as lending itself well to both acoustic and full band performances, and this makes sense when you realise that his thumping beats and heavy guitar riffs actually belie a great voice, inventive lyrics and some truly beautiful music.

While the first half of the album may be the direct homage to the rockers of yesteryear, the second half takes us on a more scaled back, bluesy journey. ‘Through Steady Doors’ comes closest to evoking the acoustic performance we’re teased with, yet it’s still no lo-fi singer-songwriter dirge: instead, the listener is practically pushed through those steady doors by the force of the music. Similarly, Lost Dogs is a more stripped down track that still doesn’t give up hope, even when faced with being lost and looking for the one you love. It wouldn’t be out of place in the airport-dash sequence at the end of an indie movie – and that’s a compliment.

There’s even some outright country slipping in there at the end, rounding off a distinct album that spans several genres and nails them all equally. My recommendation? Summer’s coming up, and this will be perfect road trip music: it will keep your foot to the floor, your spirits up, and after all – it’s A Book For Wanderers.

A Book For Wanderers is available now.