The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday June 27th

Music Review: Ryley Walker


Ryley Walker may be new to life as a solo musician, but his debut, All Kinds of You , is nothing short of a sophisticated and intricate arrangement, confidently stamping his bold and unique style of playing. The Chicago guitarist combines avant-garde complexities with a folk aesthetic in an album that speaks to the heart in an evocative way.

Formerly a free noise artist, Walker tunes his guitar to a more roots style of music in his debut without shedding all of his experimental techniques. The two sides of Walker’s “free folk” ingenuity are laid out in the pair “Twin Oaks, Pt. 1” and later “Twin Oaks, Pt. 2.” “Pt 1” is a provocative display of American Primitive fingerpicking, complete with a charging drum beat and bass line, placing the listener stomping along with Walker and crew. Meanwhile, “Pt. 2” opens up to Walker’s introspective composing, slowing the pace of the album with a mystifying guitar medley.


All Kinds of You


Nevertheless, All Kinds of You is not a juxtaposed album. The record kicks off with the single “The West Wind” where Walker beautifully blends his craft in folk songwriting with his passion for an experimental ambiance. Songs like “The West Wind” showcase the defining factor in Walker’s debut that sets him apart from similar guitar virtuosos like Daniel Bachman and Steve Gunn: the strength of his voice.

While “The West Wind” introduces Walker’s rumbling and haunting vocals, his singing is solidified on the following track “Blessings,” where Walker gives an uncanny resemblance to his icon Tim Buckley. Even with optimistic titles like “Blessings” and “On the Rise,” each pick from Walker’s guitar or breath of his voice consistently gives a tinge of strange melancholia.

However, while the album may linger in strange sadness, All Kinds of You is brought to a close with the bright “Tanglewood Spaces.” The song ends the record on an amiable note similar to fellow instrumentalist Nathan Salsburg, a note that gently reflects back on moments preceding it while shining a promising light for the talented guitarist.

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