tue 26/05/2020

CD: Ryley Walker - Golden Sings That Have Been Sung | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Ryley Walker - Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

CD: Ryley Walker - Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

Notable third album from the Chicago singer-songwriter

Ryley Walker's 'Golden Sings That Have Been Sung': one for the heads

Despites odd dives into atonal sound-colour, Ryley Walker’s third album shares much with the catalogue of Island Records circa 1971 and the more edgy Elektra singer-songwriter albums from around 1969. Not that it sounds dated. The daisy-fresh Golden Sings That Have Been Sung is timeless, yet so clearly draws from a deep knowledge of maverick solo artists like Tim Buckley and John Martyn that it inevitably evokes its foundations.

Despites odd dives into atonal sound-colour, Ryley Walker’s third album shares much with the catalogue of Island Records circa 1971 and the more edgy Elektra singer-songwriter albums from around 1969. Not that it sounds dated. The daisy-fresh Golden Sings That Have Been Sung is timeless, yet so clearly draws from a deep knowledge of maverick solo artists like Tim Buckley and John Martyn that it inevitably evokes its foundations. As it was with the similar-minded Jonathan Wilson and his Gentle Spirit album, Walker’s reconfiguration of the past confounds any suspicions that overtly embracing an inspirational wellspring could be a musical dead end.

Chicago’s Walker first attracted attention as a finger-picking guitarist. His last album, 2015’s Primrose Green, suggested he was veering towards Bert Jansch at his jazziest. Indeed, Walker went on to work with Jansch’s Pentangle colleague, the bassist Danny Thompson. Golden Sings That Have Been Sung takes it further by diving into a fuggy world which fans of John and Beverley Martyn’s landmark 1970 album The Road to Ruin will recognise due to its free-form, free-flowing approach to how a song is constructed.

Golden Sings... evolved from jams around refrains and riffs, and it shows. The rippling songs resonate contemplatively to suggest Walker has spent a lot of his recent time taking stock. As his voice is not strong, the album hinges on the impact of the tightly focussed arrangements and instrumental interplay, all of which are foregrounded by the production of former Wilco member LeRoy Bach. This is a notable album, marking Walker as one to watch. It’s also one for the heads.

Add comment

newsletter

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