Ryley Walker

Primrose Green

Written by: BV on 23/06/2015 19:16:55

Ryley Walker is most likely a name you’ll know by now if you’re into eclectic folk tunes and jangly music in general. Drawing on obvious inspirations like early Van Morrison records and bands like Fairport Convention or the more recent Hiss Golden Messenger, Walker melds these influences into a contorted version of them – leaving the influences obvious, but not counterproductive to his music in general.

Via album opener and title track “Primrose Green”, Walker cements his position as a masterful songwriter when it comes to predominantly acoustic instrumentation. Although his lyrical work may seem a bit lackluster on most of the tracks on the album, his work on “Primrose Green” is arguably his best. The prolonged words soaring from his distinct voice certainly argue in his favor, and when backed by a group of highly talented musicians creating a twisted, alluring soundscape you can’t help but being absorbed by these almost surreal musical adventures. These tendencies continue on “Summer Dress”, although his lyrical work here is most definitely on the weaker side of his repertoire. Lyrics aside, “Summer Dress” is by all means a captivating track delivering many of the same qualities as the enigmatic and downright fabulous album opener, whilst not being capable of matching up to its level in earnest.

“Griffiths Buck Blues” is arguably the album’s highlight. Over a subtle harmonium drone, Walker musters his guitar talents and displays them as the force of nature he can be, when he’s not focusing on aping the lyrical tendencies of his obvious influences. I have no qualms about calling Walker a massively accomplished instrumentalist, as it is essentially his flair for instrumental arrangements that makes “Primrose Green” a downright solid album. Beneath all the jazzy musical tendencies there is a band that could probably jam loosely for an hour or so in front of an audience, without losing much attention from it – so much so, in fact, that the album frequently sends my thoughts in the direction of The Grateful Dead’s stunning masterpiece “American Beauty” as the both albums’ instrumental parts are stunning in their own right.

As a summation of all things mentioned here, Ryley Walker maintains a clear air of naturalism that is quite enviable for most of the newer freak-folk or folk-rock revivalist acts like Hiss Golden Messenger or Steve Gunn. There’s an air of authenticity which surrounds every single move Ryley Walker makes, and although this is also the case for “Primrose Green” I certainly hope he’s got more in him as there are still lots of areas to improve on before he’ll truly grab and maintain interest from a wider array of people.


Download: Primrose Green, Griffiths Buck Blues, The High Road
For The Fans Of: Fairport Convention, Relatively Clean Rivers, Van Morrison
Listen: facebook.com

Release date 31.03.2015
Dead Oceans

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