Wednesday, 21 May 2014

"All Kinds Of You" - Ryley Walker's debut continues the folk tradition of Bert Jansch, Davy Graham and Tim Buckley

Ryley Walker is a 24 year-old singer / songwriter and guitarist from Chicago. I must confess I knew nothing about him until a few days ago when I chanced upon his excellent new debut album All Kinds Of You.

Walker has a background in Chicago’s experimental free/noise music scene but recently took his music off in a more folk-oriented direction inspired by 60s folk troubadours like Tim Hardin, Tim Buckley and Bert Jansch.

With an extremely impressive guitar picking style and a voice that does indeed recall Bert Jansch, the album is of a consistently high quality. All the songs were composed by Walker and he draws on a variety of musical styles including blues, jazz and especially the mid/late 60s crossover folk jazz of Jansch, Davy Graham, Pentangle, John Martyn and Nick Drake.

The West Wind
The album opener,The West Wind, has a gorgeous arrangement and one can hear Walker's jazz background in the lengthy instrumental coda.

The album has a number of remarkable highlights. Blessings also features viola and has some of the fragility of Nick Drake's work. Clear The Sky is a similarly outstanding ballad. I really like the album's use of viola (played by Whitney Johnson). It works well and adds a very ethereal "British folk" atmosphere, sometimes reminiscent of early Third Ear Band, to many of the songs. Instrumental Fonda recalls Davy Graham and the album closer Tanglewood Spaces features some really exquisite guitar playing. The album covers a lot of musical ground ranging from the atmospherically autumnal late 60s British folk sound to the wide open blues and jazz spaces of 20th century Americana.

Twin Oaks Pt. 1 displays Walker's impressive guitar style.

Since first hearing the album last week I haven't been listening to much else. This is an album which clearly returns to the source of classic mid 60s folk but breathes new life and reinvigorates it for a 21st Century audience. Walker has talent and is a spectacular guitarist. This album promises much for the future. He will be worth watching.

Ryley Walker - "All Kinds Of You" (Tompkins Square - April 2014)

1. The West Wind
2. Blessings
3. Twin Oaks Pt. 1
4. Great River Road
5. Clear The Sky
6. Twin Oaks Pt. 2
7. Fonda
8. On The Rise
9. Tanglewood Spaces

Stream the album and read Ryley Walker's own sleeve-notes here

While I was looking for more info on Ryley I came across this song on Soundcloud apparently recorded a couple of years ago. Here we find Ryley in psychedelic folk mode sounding like early Tim Buckley. The droning quality of the guitars and the eerie atmosphere also bring Nico to mind. Impressive. This could be a taste of future musical developments as a recent session on World Cafe also showed a notable Tim Buckley and John Martyn influence (listen here).

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