Like John Fahey before him, fingerstyle guitarist Ryley Walker’s music is steeped in the traditions of, but not limited to, folk music and blues. Perhaps Walker also prefers a grassroots approach when it comes to reaching the masses, as there are only scant details to be found on the information superhighway. No website, no Facebook page; just a smattering of YouTube videos and blurbs on websites such as Chicago Reader-appropriately enough, since the Windy City is where Walker calls home.
My first introduction to Walker’s tunes was Laurie’s Planet of Sound, a record store based in (yes) Chicago that carries an ample supply of vinyl to meet your needle’s needs. After releasing a few tapes on (drum roll please) Chicago label Plustapes, he made his vinyl debut last week for (Los Angeles? Detroit? New York City? NOPE) Chicago record label Addenda Records. Available on their website as well as stocked by Laurie’s, “Clear The Sky” is a 7″ single b/w “Joni’s Tune.” Both songs, along with other offerings I have had heard, are a perfect blend of sparse, yet rich, layered textures that fingerstyle playing is known for. Walker’s vocals also contain a weathered-wisdom well beyond his 22 years. The first one hundred copies of the 45 are available on gold vinyl, with an additional five hundred available in standard black. Each comes with a digital download too.
Much like Chicago deep dish pizza, it’s best to experience his music for yourself, instead of relying on a description from me. And like that Second City staple, it is destined to reach far beyond its current surroundings.