Golden Sings That Have Been Sung by Ryley Walker
Ryley Walker’s Golden Sings That Have Been Sung is the follow-up album to 2015’s Primrose Green, and his third studio album, released at the age of 27, suggests the early years of a prolific artist that you want to be on board with from the start.
Walker’s youth belies his talent and intuition for a sound that could only be cultivated in Chicago. He moves between rich folk ballads and a psychedelic affect that borders, at times, on progressive or that may be the result of his mixing of the familiar with complex jazz instrumentation. He walks, unsettled, between genres; a collage artist whose sound pays many tributes, and yet rises to meet the Chicago rockers who informed his style. Walker’s music is strong, certain, and wood-rich – and so the duelling cellos and his strange lyrics, which reminded me of Arlo Guthrie, are welcome departures.
As a whole, the album has an expansive quality. Conjuring waves breaking, it’s a careful, considered experiment. The jewel is the opener, ‘The Half Wit in Me’, which you will listen to the most not only because it is the first track, but also because it is the most innovative combination of his bluesy-folk-psychedelic-late-sixties-meets-mid-nineties influences. Yet my favourite might be ‘The Roundabout’, and whether that is because it has cloaked itself so well as a track that it already feels a part of my musical identity, or because it feels like an arrival, a proof of Walker’s musical hypothesis, after all of his tinkering and musing, it doesn’t really matter, I love it.
It will be a great album to bring in the spring, and a good conversation piece for the jazz-inclined who demand a nerdier folk, or for the soulful, romantic type – those who will be grateful to pledge themselves to a handsome musician.
Jemima Bucknell is our Online Fulfilment Manager.