When Ryley Walker's debut All Kinds of You arrived in 2014, it heralded the arrival of a distinctive voice in contemporary music – an impression reinforced by this year's masterful follow-up, the highly acclaimed Primrose Green. Drawing heavily from the acid folk/rock of the late Sixties and early Seventies, the Chicago singer, songwriter, and guitarist recalls genre icons John Martyn, Bert Jansch, and Tim Buckley, unusual influences for a musician barely a quarter of a century old. Walker came by those influences honestly.
"[Via] record shopping and smoking dope with the wrong crowd," he explains by email while on tour in Europe. "I'm a very big fan of folk tunes from any generation. I suppose that era speaks the loudest to me, though."
His first releases were self-issued tapes, including 2011's Of Deathly Premonitions, a project with acoustic guitar hero Daniel Bachman. Originally, Walker focused on his nimble playing, an intricate style of self-accompaniment, rather than a series of ripping solos.
"Definitely it developed out of sitting at home for a few years and playing daily," he writes. "Listening to lots of records and doing loads of cover tunes. Really feel like I've had a big leap in the last couple years, though, mostly from touring tons and tons."
Walker's eager to translate that leap into the next album, which he hopes to record later this year. In the meantime, constant comparisons to Martyn et al. have been a mixed blessing.
"It's like the only thing people can talk about," notes Walker. "I roll with it. Make no mistake, I love everything they mention, but all I got is me at the end of the day."
9507 Sherman, Friday, May 8, through Sunday, May 10. Weekend ($165) and day ($65) passes are available online at www.austinpsychfest.com. Weekend camping passes are $75 per person.
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