- 20 Apr 21
Rockford guitar hero returns with a hazy hurricane.
Ryley Walker is an enigma. On hearing his virtuoso guitar playing and rich, controlled vocals – I’m reminded of Eddie Vedder or Father John Misty – you certainly wouldn’t expect to be met by a zany 31-year-old mophead.
Then again, Walker has always seemed like a maelstrom of contradictions. Though blessed with a wicked sense of humour, he has struggled with mental health issues and substance abuse, leading to a suicide attempt in 2019. Today, with two years of sobriety under his belt, his creative juices are flowing again on what is his fifth solo album.
His musical evolution reflects Ryley Walker’s sense of adventure, which is expressed in an unbridled ambition to go wherever the hell he feels like. Which is precisely what he does here.
Course In Fable sees him shift gears significantly from folkier outings like Primrose Green and Deafman Glance. Between the jazzy Steely Dan-like pace and production of ‘Axis Bent’ and the splashes of psych-rock and unexpected prog influences on ‘Striking Down Your Big Premiere’, he keeps us guessing throughout a record that is both playful and accomplished.
Most importantly, he sounds more comfortable in himself on Course In Fable. Indeed, his sharp wit and charming, childlike enthusiasm come to the fore. Overall, this is another gem from the gifted guitarist.