Photo by Dusdin Condren
Despite hailing from the Midwest, Ryley Walker is a deep Anglophile, and you can hear it in his music. He draws inspiration from the British folk tradition of the late ’60s and early ’70s, a time when artists like Pentangle, Nick Drake, and John Martyn were combining the fingerpicked acoustic guitar with fluid, jazz-based improvisation. It’s a style that can showcase virtuosity while at the same time leaving room for simple soulfulness.
Walker sits at this intersection, but it took him some time to get there. He started out playing in experimental bands in Chicago where noise and freedom of expression were key, but a bike accident in 2012 shifted his perspective. Walker got serious about his playing, practicing diligently while absorbing the British folk nestled in his friend’s record collection. All Kinds Of You, his 2014 debut, sounded anything but contemporary, echoing past greats with an orchestral style pulled straight from the British tradition. Just a year later, he’s already adapting. “Primrose Green” is a sunny, free-floating composition that shows Walker growing into his playing, writing, and singing. It’s taken from the album Primrose Green, out March 31.