Ryley Walker is part of a new generation of young virtuosic, primarily acoustic guitarists who take cues from John Fahey’s open-ended acoustic experimentations from the 1960s and 1970s. Besides Walker, this includes Steve Gunn, William Tyler, and Daniel Bachman. However, Walker takes that aspect and combines it with influences from the more pastoral jazz inflections of 1960s and 1970s British folk rock.
Golden Sings That Have Been Sung is Ryley’s third album in as many years. Despite the short amount of time between albums, his style has been consistently fluid if nothing else. His first full length, All Kinds of You, was much more folk-oriented. The next one, Primrose Green, started incorporating the aforementioned pastoral, jazzy stylings of older British folk rock. On Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, Walker takes what he started on Primrose Green and adds more space and psychedelia.
On his newest, Ryley Walker’s virtuosity on the guitar takes a backseat in order to explore more spacious territories. On a song like “A Funny Thing She Said”, Walker’s guitar is hardly the focal point of the song – it often blends in with the other instruments in an almost meandering-like, improvisational fashion.
Whereas his previous two albums feature rather precise compositional structures, listening to Golden Sings That Have Been Sung makes one think that the album was spawned from jam sessions with a full band. What is often the problem with such loose approaches to music is that the music lacks directions and/or dynamics. That’s fortunately not an issue for most of the songs on this album, but a little bit more patience is required on Golden Sings That Have Been Sung to compared to Walker’s previous albums.
Overall, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung is a solid release and a logical next step for Ryley Walker.
Recommended If You Like: John Fahey, Van Morrison, Tim Buckley, Nick Drake, Steve Gunn, William Tyler, Jim O’Rourke
Recommended Tracks: 1 (The Halfwit In Me), 3 (Funny Thing She Said)
Do Not Play: 4 (Sullen Mind), 6 (The Roundabout)
Written by Josh Gaston on 09/01/2016