Following the release of his first solo record, ‘All Kinds of You’, Ryley Walker set out to experiment. Personal suffering in the songwriter’s life set the Illinois guitarist on a path of expanding on the folk influences he has delved in since 2012. ‘Primrose Green’ is the next chapter.
Walker’s songwriting remains expansive, evoking a whimsical element by leaving in elements of jamming and crafting. ‘Love Can Be Cruel’ exudes segments of passionate harmony, layered within absorbing instrumental refrains. His natural guitar-playing and the rhythm that carries it is indulgent, yet the most essential quality, remaining in control and prominent.
Double bass is an evident feature and high in the mix throughout, symbolising the jazz influence on the record and suitably partnering Walker’s extensive jams. It’s smoothness on ‘Summer Dress’ is an inescapable lure as the rhythm is given primary position.
The album as a whole remains cohesive whilst heading in different directions, Walker experimenting within different time frames and pushing the boundaries of what can be fit into popular music structure. From the intense focus of ‘Griffiths Bucks Blues’ to ‘Same Minds’ slow-burning jazz-improvisation, Walker shows he isn’t afraid to test all manner of options to write a definitive piece.
Lyrically Walker is disjointed, influenced by personal events over the course of writing. It leaves him melancholic, yet using the music as an effective step towards recuperation and understanding. The fact that Walker’s drawl is so clear leaves an even greater feeling of poignancy, yet greater yearning of hope.
With ‘Primrose Green’, Walker has created a mystical record, balancing idyllic sonics with moving sensibility. He’s created such a relatable record by defining the struggle of identity through his experimental and broad songwriting.