An entwining world of greenery surrounds you. Lush growth envelopes all that you can see, but it twists and contorts to mirror your body’s shape as you traverse the overgrown realm. In the distance you spot a glassy surface catch a glimmer of light, and you quicken your pace. Your flourishing guides writhe one last time to reveal a pristine lake and a boat anchored at the shore. You step onto the boat and push off into the center of the lake, and you listen . . .
Let’s journey back to the unbridled 70s. Primrose Green is the newest full-length from singer-songwriter/guitar virtuoso Ryley Walker and his compilation of accomplished studio musicians. This brilliant artist isn’t shy about channeling an enigma of influences, from Pentangle to late 60s/early 70s era Van Morrison, but it’s the unification of multiple prodigious instrumentalists around Walker that puts this record in a category all its own.
Within a cramped instrumental guitar scene, Walker’s style and spirit stand as potentially the most organic. His compositions are sophisticated and tangled, but they never come across as overly cluttered. Dozens of exquisite melodies peak out for only a few moments in each song, bearing new sonic fruits with each subsequent listen. This is the kind of group that can jam for hours and produce something stunning in each minute.
The level of versatility is maybe the most astounding thing about this record. Walker and his superbly talented band (including collaborator Daniel Bachman and a selection of Chicago jazz masterminds) slither through pastoral acoustic daydreams and frayed electric blues with equal degrees of success. Musicians and enthusiasts alike will be dazzled. If you’re seeking profound, 70s-tinged guitar music, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)