Ryley Walker - Deafman Glance

by Benjamin Lee Rating:8 Release Date:2018-05-18
Ryley Walker - Deafman Glance
Ryley Walker - Deafman Glance

Ryley Walker’s fifth album in four years demonstrates an eagerness to experiment to be applauded by genre fluid listeners far and wide. Most tracks veer away from convention in structure, giving Walker the chance to take us on a journey - a meandering path of guitar, piano, bass, flute lines and ethereal synth. It’s like driving down a familiar road but this time observing new and magical things that make you question which road you’re on. Revealing plenty of musical surprises along the way, there is a continuity to the album that defies the breadth of styles it displays – the mark of a talented musician hitting his straps.

On vocals Walker has matured, showing restraint and emotion when needed, and letting the guitar, the song writing and the production (co–produced by Leroy Le Bach and Walker) do most of the talking – it’s got a lot to say and well worth hearing over.

“22 days,” is typical of the unconventional song structure and how it can be harnessed – a sultry two minute intro preceeds some heartfelt vocals, then shifting gears it gathers momentum into a roar, to then resolve with an echo of the opening bars - a trademark of Walker's evolving genius.

“Opposite Middle” chugs along with an even alt country tempo, and although atypical of the album in this regard, still holds your interest with, dare I say it, Jackson Browne warmth.  The rhythm section holds it all together with aplomb, as it does throughout the album.

“Telluride Speed” shows more dexterity, with delicate guitar and vocals merging into prog like riffs, letting flute rolls come along for the ride. The closing track “Spoil with the Rest” rounds out the album nicely with strong guitar and plump bass, slight changes in tempo and seamless integration of vocals and instruments.

In “Deafman Glance”, the hints of Tim Buckley, Nick Drake, Beck, John Fahey and Cass McCoombs are overshadowed by Walker's unwavering direction and purpose, where each track sounds like Ryley Walker - someone comfortable crafting his own place in modern music. As he states in the press release “ I was always trying to make something like this I guess, trying to catch up with my imagination”.

Ambitious and triumphant.

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