Album Reviews

Ryley Walker – Primrose Green – Album Review

Ryley

Ryley Walker – Primrose Green – Album Review by Killian Laher

American guitarist Ryley Walker takes the listener on a trip back to the halcyon days of the late 60s/early 70s singer-songwriter era with his second album Primrose Green. The photography and even the font on the album cover has a retro feel, as if it belongs to another time. The title track, which opens the album sounds like a perfect fusion of Tim Buckley and Nick Drake, all pretty instrumentation, loose rhythm and Walker’s slurry, Buckley-esque vocals. Second track in, the jazzy Summer Dress, sees Walker cast off any inhibitions with a hyperactive vocal, singing all over a fairly simple groove. This will divide the listener, some might call it self-indulgence. Others might use words like ‘freeform’ and ‘groovy’, but the track itself has the feel of Tim Buckley’s Happy Sad album. Same Minds has some of the grace associated with John Martyn’s early seventies material, the presence of Jason Adasiewicz on vibes lending authenticity to this and the simmering workout of Love Can Be Cruel.

On instrumental tracks like Griffiths Bucks Blues, Walker gets the chance to really stretch out on guitar with some impossibly complex twists and turns. On The Banks of the Old Kishwaukee is almost a perfect distillation of the influences on this album, equal teaspoons of Buckley, Drake and Martyn, but it’s impossible to argue with it when it, like the rest of the album is rendered so well. The lengthy, intense Sweet Satisfaction has John Martyn at its core, from the plucked guitar to the slurred vocal and it’s the closest this album comes to outright homage, Walker even singing “I’d rather be the de-ye-ye-ye-vil”, while guitar squalls are tossed about liberally. Later, All Kinds Of You infuses the Martyn-feel with an almost Doors-like broodiness.

Towards the end of the album things relax a little with the string-accompanied The High Road. The reference point here is very much Nick Drake, Walker sounds in control, comfortable yet world-weary. Closing track Hide In The Roses is almost apologetic in comparison to the previous nine tracks, a brief, sparse acoustic lament. It’s hard not to feel this album is at times, derivative, but it’s a perfect evocation of a period of time, and one of the lovelier albums released in 2015.

 

1. Primrose Green
2. Summer Dress
3. Same Minds
4. Griffiths Bucks Blues
5. Love Can Be Cruel
6. On The Banks of the Old Kishwaukee
7. Sweet Satisfaction
8. The High Road
9. All Kinds of You
10. Hide In The Roses

 

Primrose Green

 

 

 

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