Ryley Walker is the reincarnation of the true American guitar player. His personal life might be tumultuous and his residential status in question, but his bedrock is disciplined daily rehearsal and an inexhaustible wellspring of song craft.
Ryley transitioned slowly into the finger-style playing in 2008. By 2011, at age 21, he finally began issuing recordings from his already impressive catalog of compositions. Evidence of Things Unseen and Of Deathly Premonitions (with Daniel Bachman) appeared briefly as limited cassette releases. Both efforts were impressive displays of fingerpicking prowess.
After a 2012 bike accident, Ryley began practicing more diligently; he began lacquering his fingertips at cheap salons, permanently giving his playing aggression and tone difficult to achieve with naked fingertips or finger picks. He was finding a new path refracting the British traditional spectrum, from Bert Jansch to Nick Drake, and defying all the limitations of the genre. His 2013 recordings, that resulted in The West Wind EP and All Kinds of You LP, fully express these Anglophilic tendencies.
This brings us to the present. The board was barely reset from the All Kinds of You sessions before Ryley was corralling his by-then-rejiggered band back into Minbal studios in Chicago to solidify a totally new direction in his creative vision. The core of Ryley’s band continues to be Brian Sulpizio, guitar, Ben Boye, piano or harmonium, and Whitney Johnson on viola and intermittent background vocals.
No one knows what the future holds for young Ryley Walker. Hardship and setbacks and dilapidated housing only seem to spur him on creatively.. A short lifetime of interminable practice and discipline have resulted in Primrose Green, an album of a sort that hasn’t been seen since the 1970s. If the world catches on, the Ryley that follows up this album may be a different sort of person, one who knows the taste of better liquor and comfortable bedding and isn’t nearly as driven. He may be just as visionary, though less hungry, but either way… this is the time to get on the Ryley Walker bandwagon.