|Ryley Walker — All Kinds of You (2014)|
Ryley Walker — All Kinds of You
Δ• “All Kinds of You is good enough to be cited as one of the notable records of the ongoing odd~folk revival when this stuff eventually gets another look~in in a few decades’ time, with peaks that suggest there are even more interesting things to come from Walker.” — JANNE OINONEN
Δ• “Ryley Walker, a spaced~out young singer from Chicago who claws at his instrument like an angry old soul, was one of them. He spent his Thursday night practically snapping the strings off his guitar, squeezing magic and violence out of a gorgeous songbook. This was rainy day music for when the wind is threatening to rip your house from its foundation.” — Washington Post
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Album release: April 15, 2014
Record Label: Tompkins Square
01 The West Wind 5:15
02 Blessings 5:25
03 Twin Oaks, Pt. 1 3:23
04 Great River Road 2:41
05 Clear The Sky 4:43
06 Twin Oaks, Pt. II 5:05
07 Fonda 2:05
08 On The Rise 3:00
09 Tanglewood Spaces 3:38
© 2014 Tompkins Square Records
Δ• Ben Billington Drums
Δ• Ben Boye Piano
Δ• Cooper Crain Engineer, Mixing
Δ• Whitney Johnson Viola
Δ• Jill Keller Photography
Δ• Amanda Petrosky Layout
Δ• Brian J. Sulpizio Guitar (Electric)
Δ• Dan Thatcher Bass
Δ• Ryley Walker Composer, Guitar, Vocals
Album Moods: Airy Ambitious Animated Cerebral Complex Confident Dreamy Driving Earnest Earthy Elegant Euphoric Flowing Intimate Literate Lively Lyrical Organic Provocative Refined Sophisticated Technical Tuneful Warm
Themes: Day Driving Maverick Open Road The Creative Side
Review by Thom Jurek; Score: ****
Δ• After two limited~edition cassettes, a single, and 2013’s fine West Wind EP, fingerstyle guitarist, singer, and songwriter Ryley Walker delivers All Kinds of You, his debut full~length for the discerning Tompkins Square. Produced and mixed by Cave’s Cooper Crain, Walker fearlessly navigates musical traditions in bracing, seductive, and adventurous ways with the self~assuredness of an artist far older than his 24 years.
Δ• His influences are on his sleeve: the British fingerstyle folk of guitarists Davy Graham and Bert Jansch, American primitive guitar soli a la Takoma Records, the delirious psychedelic folk of Tim Buckley, and the bluesy jazz~folk of Tim Hardin and more. But Walker’s sound reaches deeper and wider; it cannot be reined in by them.
Δ• Set opener “The West Wind” juxtaposes jazz drumming, modal blues, classical viola, and raga~esque drones in an intoxicating meld. “Blessings” pairs viola and guitar in a lilting display of early Celtic folk, Baroque classical music, and jazz with his blues moan on top. Walker’s baritone may be limited in range, but it is clear and expressive; the grain in his voice inhabits his lyric with commitment, but not overstatement. “Great River Road” is a driving country blues that recalls Hardin, but its turnarounds are tight and knotty, and the Gypsy swing in the bridge moves it outside that frame. Instrumental “Twin Oaks, Pt. 1” is a riveting guitar breakdown with a throbbing bassline, soaring viola, and post~bop drums. “Clear the Sky” recalls the guitar style of early John Martyn, though the the elegant instrumental arrangements and open vocal recall Tim Buckley’s Happy Sad era — though Walker ultimately slips both restraints and delivers something more mercurial. The guitar soli in “Twin Oaks, Pt. 2” is a gorgeous meditation on minor~key patterns, while “Fonda,” another instrumental, contrasts ragtime and Appalachian~style guitar with neo~classical piano in a haunted round. “On the Rise” is an uptempo modal blues that features Brian Sulpizio’s neo~psych electric guitar duetting with Walker’s fluid fingerstyle acoustic. Closer “Tanglewood Spaces” is a gorgeous round that reflects both Graham and Jansch, but draws from the rural American South in its melody. All Kinds of You may not contain new sounds — they weren’t new for his influences, either. But Walker’s harmonic sensibility is vast. With his idiosyncratic compositional method and stunning — yet emotionally resonant — playing technique, he is able to dissect, distill, recombine, and, just like his predecessors, reshape the music that inspires him in his own image.
Δ• Having kicked around Chicago’s experimental free/noise music scene for several years, Ryley turned to a folk~rock sound inspired by some of his heroes, among them Tim Hardin, Tim Buckley, and Bert Jansch. The result is a poised and accomplished debut album, recorded in Chicago by Cooper Crain (guitarist/keyboardist in Cave).
Δ• The West Wind, Ryley’s debut 3 song 12” EP, features “The West Wind” and two non~LP B sides : “A Home For Me” and “Sweet Little Betsy” (w/Daniel Bachman). The B sides will not appear elsewhere, digitally or otherwise. The 180g, 45rpm 12” received praise from UNCUT, NPR, BBC and many other outlets.
Δ• “With the charming swagger of jazz~folk troubadour Tim Buckley and the resonant, full picking style of Bert Jansch, ‘The West Wind’ comes from Walker’s first widely available release, a three~song 12”. With acoustic guitar in hand and a voice like browned butter, Walker swings and sways in a lush string~and~piano arrangement right out of Buckley’s ‘Starsailor’; it slowly picks up to a swirling gallop without bucking the rhythm.” — NPR Music
Δ• I have said it before and I will say it again; the singer~songwriter genre is one of my favorites because you never know what you are going to get. Because of the left of the dial reception of the music at a mainstream status, the artist’s tend to go a little bit more out of the box to try some things that you may not otherwise hear. That is the case with the folk influenced guitar virtuoso style of Ryley Walker’s debut All Kinds of You. “The West Wind” kicks the album off and you are quickly introduced to what Walker does as he balances his folk style against his hauntingly strong vocals and ability to bend to the ends of norm and dig into the strangely experimental. His vocals remain a focal point of this album as you press forward with the melancholy feel of songs like “Blessings.” A vibe of sadness laces the album as a whole, most noticeably in the lyrics on tunes like “On The Rise,” however you as the listener still can’t help but be drawn in as he experiments within that feel and vibe on songs like “Twin Oaks, Pt. 1,” which shows of f his guitar work better than any song on the album. As with most albums within the singersongwriter genre, this one would be consider by most to be a left of the dial sort of album as it encompasses many different feelings and emotions into a style that is not often heard these days on Top 40 radio. However, that doesn’t make this album any less appealing either. Walker’s voice is intriguing and the delivery of the well~crafted lyrics is enough to pull you in, let alone the fact that this album flows sonically with ease making it one that is very easy to listen to from start to finish. (http://onestopcountry.com/)
BY JANNE OINONEN, 10 APRIL 2014, 12:30 BST; SCORE: 8/10
|Ryley Walker — All Kinds of You (2014)|