by Kayla Morgan (@kaym0_)
“Why are people so mean to unhappy people.” Brian Walker speaks this phrase over the sound of unidentified noise resembling the pitter patter of a steady rain to start his new album Diary. With this sentence, Walker introduces a theme that will be consistent throughout the album; A lack of empathy from our surrounding nation. This sentiment is just one of many weighty topics that Walker tackles in this brutally honest full length concept album.
One of the buzz-words that was heard throughout the nation in 2017 was the word “woke.” In today’s era, this trendy term is meant to refer to an individual’s ability to understand and speak about serious or controversial problems in society. Walker’s solo project, A Day Without Love, defines “woke” on multiple levels. While Walker continues to speak out about mental illness, Diary also tackles white privilege, systematic racism, inequality, and the consequences of capitalism.
Walker pleads with policy makers and capitalists to understand the consequences that result from unequal wealth distribution. The accusation from Walker to advantageous citizens is clear: Those that benefit from unjust policies do not care about those that are suffering from the repercussions of their success. It is a prominent issue of today’s youthful generations; trying to teach selfish capitalists to have empathy and care about the humans they step on to come out on top.
Walker details his experience with insufficient funds throughout Diary, describing how living with unsustainable wages affects day-to-day life and self care. In “Healthy and Wealthy,” Walker describes how he does not have the money to take care of his mental health. With these sentiments, Walker becomes the voice of an entire generation, as most millennials find themselves with wages that barely cover the bare minimum of bills. This album is more than just the expression of one individual, Walker composes on behalf of those that suffer in silence.
The style of A Day Without Love, which previously had a punky and angry vibe, has simmered into snarky melancholy drone. The audio for Diary was intentionally recorded in Walker’s bedroom for an authentically unfiltered result. While a professional studio could have worked out some vocal kinks and timing issues, Walker’s conscious decision to open up his vulnerability to his audience is admirable. Walker’s raw and unconventional vocals are reminiscent of early Conor Oberst and Elliott Smith. While the stylings of Walker will not appeal to every audience, the successes of Smith and Oberst provide hope that this Philly king of DIY will find the people that appreciate his art for the honest and pure form that it takes.
Although a little misplaced in theme compared to the rest of the album, one stand out track on the album is “11:10.” The composition might be one of their best, with a delicious instrumental break in the middle. The song’s melody caters to Walker’s vocal range, while fitting in with the admirable instrumentals.
The bluntness of this album will come across as shocking to many audiences. No nonsense lyrics skip the metaphors and tells the audience straight up, “They don’t know me, but they don’t like me ‘cause I’m black.” Walker’s brutal honesty tackles ideas ranging from racism to suicidal thoughts. Walker wastes no time in getting straight to the point with the alarming first lyrics in “Facing Myself,” “I’m no longer afraid of killing myself, I think I learned to face the fear.” This song re-introduces mental health as the primary topic of discussion. The fast pacing of the song makes the topic of suicidal ideations easier to discuss in conversation, erasing the feeling that speaking about suicidal thoughts is taboo.