Ryley Walker will release his new album, Primrose Green, March 31st on Dead Oceans. The title sounds pastoral and quaint, but the titular green has dark hallucinogenic qualities, as does much of the LP. Ryley didn't have much time to write this LP, so some of it he didn't. Bits of lyrics were improvised into full-blown songs in the studio, more often than not on the fly. However, the ratty bits of handwritten words that make up the balance of the record grew from scattered misadventures across an ill-fated 2013 tour.
The band on Primrose Green is a mixture of new and old Chicago talent, blending both jaded veterans of the post-rock and jazz mini-circuits together with a few eager, open-eared youths. (It's worth stating at this point that this is not a jazz record, despite the sheer volume of jazz and experimental heavyweights that make up the rest of Primrose Green's all-star cast. Chicago has blurred these lines since forever.)
Ryley Walker is the reincarnation of the True American Guitar Player. That's as much a testament to his roving, rambling ways as to 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 in 2007, when he moves to Chicago and briefly attempts a collegiate lifestyle. Here, he storms the local noise scene with his Jasmine-brand electric guitar, and a few years of wasted finger-bleeding basement shows firmly established his name locally, if not always positively. By 2011, at age 21, Ryley's music offered impressive displays of fingerpicking prowess, though not fully elaborated documents.
It was a 2012 bike accident that set Ryley on his current path. Practice became more diligent. He began lacquering his fingertips at cheap salons. Ryley 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 - The West Wind EP and All Kinds of You LP - fully express these Anglophilic tendencies to the point of nearly exhausting their possibilities.
The title track "Primrose Green," was nearly discarded after its incarnation on a bleak St. Patrick's Day spent in Oxford, Mississippi. "Primrose Green" is a colloquial term for a cocktail of whiskey and morning glory seeds that has a murky, dreamy, absinthian quality when imbibed, and a spirit-crushing aftereffect the morning after. It is the moment before departure from the mindstate of Ryley's previous release, All Kinds Of You.
Ryley will tour throughout 2015 in support of Primrose Green including shows with Zola Jesus, Hamilton Leithauser, Hiss Golden Messenger, Kevin Morby, Moon Duo andSteven Gunn and performances at Big Ears Festival, Savannah Stopover Festival,Tomorrow Never Knows and FRZN Fest. A full list of dates is below with more to be announced soon!
RYLEY WALKER TOUR DATES:
Tue. Jan. 13 - Brooklyn, NY @ Baby's All Right (w/ Hop Along, Beach Slang)
Fri. Jan. 16 - Chicago, IL @ Athenaeum Theater (Tomorrow Never Knows w/ Zola Jesus) [tix]
Sun. Jan. 18 - Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon (FRZN Fest w/ Hamilton Leithauser) [tix]
Thu. Mar. 5 - Savannah, GA @ Savannah Stopover Festival (w/ Hiss Golden Messenger) [tix]
Sat. Mar. 7 - Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place (w/ Kevin Morby) [tix]
Tue. Mar. 10 - Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop (w/ Kevin Morby) [tix]
Wed. Mar. 11 - Nashville, TN @ Stone Fox (w/ Kevin Morby) [tix]
Thu. Mar. 12 - Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight (w/ Kevin Morby, Moon Duo)
Fri. Mar. 13 - Washington, DC @ DC9 (w/ Kevin Morby) [tix]
Sat. Mar. 14 - Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle (w/ Kevin Morby) [tix]
Sun. Mar. 15 - Brooklyn, NY @ Baby's All Right (w/ Kevin Morby) [tix]
Thu. Mar. 19 - Houston, TX @ Walter's Downtown (w/ Steve Gunn)
Fri. Mar. 20 - New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa (w/ Steve Gunn)
Sun. Mar. 22 - Columbus, GA @ WC Bradley Museum (w/ Steve Gunn)
Mon. Mar. 23 - Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree
Fri. Mar. 27 - Knoxville, TN @ Big Ears Festival [tix]
Sat. Mar. 28 - Louisville, KY @ The New Vintage (w/ Steve Gunn)
Sun. Mar. 29 - Columbus, OH @ The Spacebar (w/ Steve Gunn)
Wed. Apr. 8 - Copenhagen, DK @ Copenhagen Jazzhouse
Thu. Apr. 9 - Oslo, NO @ Internasjonalen
Fri. Apr. 10 - Stockholm, SE @ Grand Central
Sat. Apr. 11 - Aalborg, DK @ 1000Fryd
Sun. Apr. 12 - Rostock, DE @ JAZ
Mon. Apr. 13 - Berlin, DE @ Monarch [tix]
Sat. Apr. 18 - London, UK @ Sebright Arms [tix]
Sun. Apr. 19 - Manchester, UK @ The Castle
Mon. Apr. 20 - Bristol, UK @ The Birdcage