Returning to Chicago after a lengthy tour, Ryley Walker reconnected with instrumentalist LeRoy Bach, best known for his Wilco session work. Bach also hosted improv nights at the city’s Whistler arts venue, where the young Walker had dared to jam with some notable company.
The two teamed up last year to create this, the singer/guitarist’s third album, which builds on the huge promise of his first two. Walker wears his ’70s influences – Buckley, Jansch, Martyn, etc – openly and without apology, but he’s no cheap imitator: Walker compares with any veteran from rock’s mythic summers of love. But if his new record conjures more pastoral images, then the dappled meadow has its darker corners, too. The immense growlings on Sullen Mind and the moody shuffling of Age Old Tale both lie under cloud cover. Sultry jazz notes on Funny Thing She Said balance a bittersweet lyric of separation. Set against this are the cheery jangling riffs of The Halfwit In Me, tribal shimmies on A Choir Apart and the plaintive I Will Ask You Twice with its surreal image of ‘playing footsie with Jesus’. His melodies are subtle – Walker doesn’t do the killer chorus thing – but subtle woodwind and fabulous guitar work underscore every low key phrase. Golden Sings sees Walker hit the ground running and the open road beckons once more.
Golden Sings That Have Been Sung available August 19 via Dead Oceans