wed 12/08/2020

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)

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