wed 23/10/2019

CD: Ryley Walker - Deafman Glance | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Ryley Walker - Deafman Glance

CD: Ryley Walker - Deafman Glance

Far-out and fractured fifth album from the idiosyncratic Chicago dweller

'Deafman Glance': not an uplifting album

As it was with his last album Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, it’s impossible to listen to Ryley Walker without comparisons to John Martyn and Tim Buckley – the jazz-infused, non-linear Buckley of Lorca – springing to mind. But this time round, for his fifth album, Walker appears to have also been sponging up the free-flowing ethos of David Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Name and the lithe Arthur Lee of Four Sail. Additionally, there’s the spiralling instrumental current of fellow Chicago dwellers Tortoise and dashes of math rock.

On his label’s website, Walker says the only music he listened to while creating Deafman Glance was that of Genesis, and that his goal was to make an anti-folk album. That’s as may be, but neither are in evidence. The immediate marker is that his voice now sounds like that of someone who has been through the wringer; a voice emanating from the worn-out throat of a heavy drinker and committed smoker. Overall though, the various strands feeding into album are unified with the seeming exposure of a grey-tinged inner self. This is not an uplifting album. It is, nonetheless, compelling.

Early on, Walker could be characterised as a Bert Jansch-influenced singer-songwriter. Then, with Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, he began reaching further. Now, with nine new compositions which were not road-tested live before being recorded, his music is more organic and less easy to get a handle on: hence the instinctive search for signposts, such as John Martyn et al.

Where he specifically goes from here is impossible to call – but there are only two directions. Firstly, reigning back to craft a more conventional music. Or, alternatively, pushing forward with the adventurousness that defines Deafman Glance. Hopefully, it’s the latter.

Overleaf: listen to “Telluride Speed” from Ryley Walker’s Deafman Glance

Walker’s voice sounds like that of someone who has been through the wringer


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.