Ryley Walker’s Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

One of 2016's landmark albums reviewed

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Four key influences on Ryley Walker’s magnum opus

MARK EITZEL

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60 Watt Silver Lining

WARNER BROS 1996

Eitzel’s unravelling confessional spiels, in American Music Club and beyond, are a plain influence on songs like “Funny Thing She Said” – and none more so than this jazz-tinged brooder. “I just fell in love with that guy’s music,” says Walker. “I love that record. He has a conversational approach to music which sounds like a guy at the end of a bar losing his mind at 2 am. It’s painfully personal, even if it’s embarrassing, and I like that approach.”

SUN KIL MOON

April

CALDO VERDE 2008

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Mark Eitzel’s sadcore contemporary in early ’90s San Francisco, Mark Kozelek’s Noughties music had most impact on Walker: “We did his stuff in high school as a band.” A 2008 Chicago Sun Kil Moon show remains one of Walker’s favourite ever concerts, while his regular keyboard player Ben Boye is currently working with Kozelek in the latest touring incarnation of Sun Kil Moon. “I went from adoring this guy and opening up for him, to having a friend in his band. I couldn’t be any more proud.”

JIM O’ROURKE

Halfway To A Threeway

DRAG CITY/DOMINO 1999

The baroque end of ’90s Chicago post-rock is writ large on Walker’s latest work, particularly on the opening “The Halfwit In Me”. Archer Prewitt and Sam Prekop of The Sea And Cake also feature on this meticulously-realised EP, which finds O’Rourke at his drollest. Walker: “My sense of humour’s dry, and here in Chicago and the Midwest, the person you have to make fun of is yourself.”

ALICE COLTRANE

Journey In Satchidananda

IMPULSE! 1970

Although the key new influences on Golden Sings… reflect Walker’s increased focus on his lyrics, an overt love of cosmic jazz comes to the fore on the outstanding closing track, “Age Old Tale”, as harp flurries and a steady jangle of bells specifically reference the title track of Coltrane’s spiritual masterpiece. “I’m really into Alice Coltrane records at the moment,” he told Uncut last year. “I’m trying to sing like Alice Coltrane plays the harp.”

 

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