Ryley Walker is the reincarnation of the true American guitar player. That’s as much a testament to his roving, rambling ways, or the fact that his Guild D-35 guitar has endured a few stints in the pawnshop. Swap out rural juke joints for rotted DIY spaces and the archetype is solidly intact. 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.
Raised on the banks of the ol’ Rock River in northern Illinois, Ryley’s early life doesn’t give us much more than Midwestern mundanity to speak of. Things start to pick up for young Walker when he moves to Chicago in 2007 and briefly attempts a collegiate lifestyle as he storms the always fecund local noise scene with his Jasmine-brand electric guitar; just a cheap knock-off from which he could coax unearthly sound hallucinations.
It was a 2012 bike accident that set Ryley on his current path. He quit his day job to recuperate but instead of returning to the grind he duked it out on the rock club circuit. Practice became more diligent; he began lacquering his fingertips at cheap salons, permanently giving his playing aggression and tone difficult to achieve with naked fingertips or finger picks. Though seen as part of the fraternity of young guitar masters like William Tyler and Daniel Bachman, his voice defied that stereotype. 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 to the point of nearly exhausting their possibilities.
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