Monday, 12 May 2014

Ryley Walker - All Kinds of You

The Anxiety of Influence

As I recall, Harold Bloom's memorable book took deconstruction and other critical literary theories into rich realms of exploration, and his text was also influenced by its precursors, but whilst the 'anxiety' of its title was playful if also exact, I use it here to apply more to myself than in this case a 24 year old from Chicago who plays under the obvious influence of Bert Jansch and Pentangle.

I seem to so often reference preceding musical touchstones when writing about contemporary music and do wonder if this does a disservice to those current artists. I offset this by claiming such references to be a compliment, and I mean this completely, but I am expressing the anxiety here that it wouldn't be received as such.The fact Walker cites these influences provides balm in this particular case!

Listening now as I write to eighth track On The Rise, the echo of Jansch is thundering - and brilliantly so. Walker's guitar work is anchored firmly to the Davey Graham lineage taken up by Jansch and Renbourn, and the influence here is such a pleasing celebration of that history. There are instrumentals on this album to highlight the proficiency, but it is in the whole and Walker's vocal that also invokes Bert's which delights so much. The string work that prevails as accompaniment throughout this fine debut  [eg viola by Whitney Johnson on beautiful Blessings] gives it some singularity, but the overall impact is in the reflections of late 60s/early 70s British folk.

You can hear it streamed here as well as read Walker's track by track commentary, these observations laying engaging claim to their rooting in the here and now as well as America as the other dominating influence.

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