Ryley Walker

Ryley Walker


Ryley Walker sits alone, the added instruments on his new album Primrose Green seemingly not in attendance. His guitar case is flung wide like an open top coffin reminding us that he is not here to stay, that this is just one whistle stop on a very long tour. It’s a whistle stop worth remembering though.

He opens tonight with an instrumental, which glides through the Gullivers upstairs hall. Then comes his trademark holler when he asks ‘Why did you even come around last night?’ This is perfect Sunday evening music, at times, it is upstanding while at other moments Ryley shows a different side, wailing how he has ‘seen women crawl on their knees.’

Despite his loud voice, you feel he never shouts but raises his voice in a classy and controlled way. On ‘Summertime’ he shows a different element to his voice, a snakelike sound which sees him siss over his contrastingly beautiful guitar notes.

As if returning down to earth, he then pulls out a screwdriver and starts adjusting his guitar, work-man like. This manual work is well worth it as the catchy hook from the album title track soon sounds out from the stage. It takes its times to wind out though, only becoming recognisable after a long but beautiful instrumental. It is these instrumental and added masterclasses that make Ryley stand out. When he plays his hands are frenetic, even hypnotising.

The song of the evening is ‘On The Banks Of The Old Kishwaukee’ and it tells the tale of a group of gypsy travellers behind what is a truly enticing riff. You can’t help but find it refreshing to hear a song about such an underrepresented subject, when we hear songs about love again and again.

After shouting the words to Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ to the sound of laughter, he covers a much deeper cut of his ‘Fair Play’. Here, it becomes clear that Ryley can make so much, with so little.

He closes tonight on ‘Sweet Satisfaction’, the song that introduced Ryley to me, and it is just as beautiful live as on record and the euphoric yet depressing call of ‘I’d rather be dead’ couldn’t sound more wrong, being here and alive feels just right.

It ends suddenly and the eagle whose claws had gripped us and dragged us into an illusion of unreality, before the dreaded Monday morning, drops us down to earth with a bang. Back to work.

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.