Ryley Walker Pours Fluid & Mystical Melodies On ‘Golden Sings That Have Been Sung’ (ALBUM REVIEW)


ryleywalker2Many were mystified by Ryley Walker’s enchanting 2015 record Primrose Green. It was a bewitching, trippy groove that conjured up images of the cemetery scenes from Easy Rider, with guitar playing that could hypnotize you. On his follow up, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, Walker builds on that pastoral sound. At times sullen and introspective and then whimsical and smooth, Walker again puts the emphasis on his fluid guitar melodies that seem to pour out of him like liquid gold.

Golden Sings is darker and more mysterious than Primrose Green, and Walker does not shy away from drama. His lyrics take a deep dive into many phases, including the anxieties of becoming older (and wiser), the complications of spirituality, and the sweeping romance of first love. Even the album’s beautiful cover art features an illustration of the phases of the moon.

Walker moves through his songs with a majestic, earthy beauty. His instrumental arrangements sometimes take on an old world folk sound, with thoughtful guitar chords, quiet percussion and hearty piano tunes. His soft, airy vocals are delicate in comparison to the atmospheric “The Great and Undecided”, a song about old friendships and moving on. “Moved away to keep a distance/That’s kind of nice cause I like it here/I was the great and undecided/Hold the candle where the light is,” he sings gently.

Moving through phases and self-discovery drive many of the lyrics on Golden Sings, and especially so in the poetic, almost spoken word “A Choir Apart”. Short stanzas like “My word is divine/I control the weather” are wispy and quick, until Walker makes his true offering at the end: “Golden sings that have been sung/Wiseass wisdom wasted on the young/Spend your mornings thinking about the night/Don’t carry fire/You can use my light.” He seems to be looking at what it means to mature and progress in his own life, and pondering what he can offer to others.

“Sullen Mind” is a raincloud of a song about feeling burdened and insecure, and Walker channels rage with an unnerving quiet. The repetition of the lyrics create a madman energy before the instrumentals become manic and Walker begins a muddled chant under his breath. It’s a devious climax in a whirlwind of a song.

Walker gets sweet, too, on “The Halfwit in Me”, a sun-drenched, glowy, self-deprecating tune about the inclination to mess up, despite the circumstances. “I Will Ask You Twice” is a swoon-worthy lullaby and proclamation of love, and “A Funny Thing She Said” is bluesy, sultry and piano-laden. With Golden Sings, Walker once again enchants us into a groovy stupor.


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