Movement Magazine


Thomas Bellflower March 23, 2015

Ryley Walker’s highly anticipated Dead Oceans’ debut, Primrose Green, is currently streaming all week long via NPR Music’s First Listen ahead of its March 31st release. Ryley didn’t have much time to write this LP, so some of it he didn’t. Bits of lyrics were improvised into full-blown songs in the studio on the fly more often than not. The title track, “Primrose Green,” was nearly discarded after its incarnation on a bleak St. Patrick’s Day spent in Oxford, Mississippi. It is the moment before departure from Ryley’s first LP, All Kinds Of You. “Summer Dress” is liftoff, seizing the mantle from Tim Buckley’s Starsailor and perfecting its frantic jazz-induced fits. A forgotten roadside hotel in Tennessee yielded one song, “Same Minds”, with just a hint of self-loathing. Side B sets off with a shot of Americana, “On The Banks Of The Old Kishwaukee.” It’s an ode to the immersion baptisms Ryley’s witnessed while walking along the banks. “Sweet Satisfaction” presents some of Ryley’s most intricate and ecstatic fingerpicking. A short lifetime of interminable practice and discipline have resulted in a masterpiece of an album, an album of a sort we haven’t seen since the 1970s. Now is the time to get on the Ryley Walker bandwagon.

Ryley’s tour in support of Primrose Green has already begun with a few breakout performances at last week’s SXSW. Having recently wrapped several dates with Kevin Morby, Ryley will continue on with Steve Gunn making stops at Big Ears Festival and Slingshot Festival before eventually linking up on the west coast with Amen Dunes. Other festival appearances include Pitchfork Music Festival, Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival and many more. A full list of dates is below with more to be announced soon.


“Sweet Satisfaction” SoundCloud stream –
“Primrose Green” SoundCloud stream –
“Primrose Green” YouTube stream –
“Primrose Green” live video –


RYLEY WALKER TOUR DATES (new dates in bold):
Mon. Mar. 23 – Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree (w/ Steve Gunn)
Wed. Mar. 25 – Savannah, GA @ Hang Fire (w/ Natalie Prass)
Thu. Mar. 26 – Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club (Slingshot Festival)
Fri. Mar. 27 – Knoxville, TN @ Big Ears Festival (w/ Sqürl, Steve Gunn)
Sat. Mar. 28 – Louisville, KY @ The New Vintage (w/ Steve Gunn, Watter, Nathan Salsburg)
Sun. Mar. 29 – Columbus, OH @ The Spacebar (w/ Steve Gunn)
Mon. Mar. 30 – Chicago, IL @ Chopin Theatre (Record Release Show)
Thu. Apr. 2 – Iowa City, IA @ Mission Creek Festival (w/ Real Estate)
Thu. May 7 – St. Louis, MO @ The Luminary Center for the Arts
Sat. May 9 – Austin, TX @ Levitation
Mon. May 11 – Atlanta, GA @ 529
Tue. May 12 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
Fri. May 15 – Portland, ME @ SPACE Gallery (w/ Death Vessel, Blood Warrior)
Sat. May 16 – Hudson, NY @ The Half Moon (w/ The Pigeons)
Mon. May. 18 – Cleveland, OH @ Euclid Tavern
Fri. May. 29 – Nelsonville, OH @ Nelsonville Music Festival
Tue. June 2 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
Wed. June 3 – Long Beach, CA @ Carpenter House
Sun. June 7 – Vancouver, BC @ Levitation – Vancouver
Mon. June 8 – Seattle, WA @ Barboza (w/ Amen Dunes)
Tue. June 9 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge (w/ Amen Dunes)
Thu. June 11 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst Atrium (w/ Amen Dunes)
Fri. June 12 – San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel (w/ Amen Dunes)
Sat. June 13 – Sonoma, CA @ Huichica Festival (w/ Amen Dunes)
Thu. June 18 – Montreal, QC @ La Vitrola (Suoni per II Popolo Festival w/ Myriam Gendron)
Sat. June 20 – Toronto, ON @ The Mod Club (NXNE w/ Angel Olsen)
Sat. June 27 – North Adams, MA @ Solid Sound Music Festival
Fri. July 17 – Chicago, IL @ Union Park (Pitchfork Music Festival)

“Because he plays guitar so damn well, it’s tempting to lump Ryley Walker in with the growing number of pickers and strummers like William Tyler and Steve Gunn. That comparison isn’t too far off either, especially if you want to use a phrase like ‘post-American Primitive.’ But Walker counts himself a Chicagoan, so it’s equally apt to align him with local post-rock outfits like Tortoise and the Sea & Cake. ‘Primrose Green’, the title track from his upcoming second album, combines the two traditions with remarkable fluidity. It opens as an acoustic pastoral, with Walker singing over a tapestry of lush piano chords and curlicues of guitar notes. As the song moves into its jazz-folk coda, the music rambles but seems increasingly geometric—more orderly, not less. ‘Lost my mind with a headful of primrose green,’ Walker laments, but this is no bad trip.”

“The young northern Illinois folk guitarist is tough to pin down, seeming to draw equal inspiration from the legacies of British and American varieties. His new album displays a kinship for Fairport Convention, Tim Buckley, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell and Burt Jansch, but Walker is a restless presence and powerful player, one whose compositions offer structural diversions and an overall expansiveness. The 10 songs move with a measured looseness, with Walker and his miraculous backing band of Chicago jazz players allowing plenty of space for tightly improvised explorations.”
Los Angeles Times

“A loose, warm, jazzy piece of ambling stoned folk music, something that one of Donovan’s weirder friends might’ve made. Period pastiche is a difficult thing to pull off; to do it right, you need to make something that could hang with the heavy hitters of the time you’re evoking. Walker pulls it off. In its soft amber beauty, ‘Primrose Green’ would’ve sounded amazing in 1973. It sounds amazing now, too.”
Stereogum (“The 5 Best Songs Of The Week”)

“this is clearly someone reaching for their essence, on a mission to follow a philosophy rather than to slavishly recreate a mood.  A musician whose formative years were spent playing noise in basements rather than perfecting his hammering-on in drop D tuning, there’s a sense that this record represents a snapshot of a restless artist in flux, an evolving creativity.”
Uncut (9/10)

“Ryley Walker kicked off the evening seated at the right hand of the stage, fronting a four piece band that luxuriated in lush, pastoral folk, pulled from both last year’s All Kinds Of You and the forthcoming Primrose Green. Quietly intense stuff, for John Fahey fans.”
Philadelphia Inquirer

“Walker’s music hearkens back to the jazz-folk work of Tim Buckley, with hints of folk legends Nick Drake, Bert Jansch, John Martyn, and Pentangle. He’s a remarkable guitar player, and his acoustic based songs become mini sprawling jazz workouts.”

“‘Primrose Green’ sounds exactly like late-’60s Tim Buckley. I can only assume that Paul Rothchild manned the boards and Van Dyke Parks rolled the joints while this was being recorded.”

Pre-order Primrose Green:
iTunes –
Amazon –
Indies –

Ryley Walker online:

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