Ryley Walker’s 'Primrose Green' — First Listen

Ryley Walker’s upcoming release, Primrose Green, is a collection of down-home, folk-rock fingerpicking, wispy Chicago jazz, and just a shot of Americana that will make you feel like you are embarking on an adventure down the winding Ol’ Rock River on which Walker grew up.

Out March 31st on Dead Oceans, the album opens with the title track “Primrose Green” and immediately lays on a thick, airy ensemble of acoustic fingerpicking, piano, and light jazzy percussion.

Primrose Green, if you were wondering, is a colloquial term for a cocktail of whiskey and morning glory seeds which has a dreamy, “absinthian” feel when imbibed; a perfect summary of this biographical album.

Nostalgic in nature and holding an emblematic feel to folk rock in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the album continues through the journey of a man’s highs and lows.

The second track, “Summer Dress,” unsheathes the Chicago jazz that Ryley became accustomed to when moving to Chicago for college. The lyrics tell of a yearning for a particular woman that makes “men crawl on their knees just looking for a taste of your skin.”

The next track “Same Minds” continues this Jazzy feel, opening with a jazz bass and then leading into Walker’s signature finger-picking and Van Morrison-like bellowing voice.

Watch the video for "Primrose Green"

After establishing his jazzy ability, Walker creatively introduces a duo of instrumentals. The first being the fast-paced folk piece called “Griffiths Bucks Blues.” Named after a local artist and botanist in Walker’s hometown of Rockford, Illinois, this upbeat mix of acoustic fingerpicking and lively fiddle makes me want to join hands with a group of close friends in a circle and dance the night away.

Walker follows with another instrumental called “Love Can be Cruel” that highlights the talent of both his drummer, Frank Rosaly, and pianist, Ben Boye. This song is essentially an impressive jazzy jam session between the two musicians, almost feeling cathartic in nature, with Walker providing a background fingerpicking outlay.

Walker’s next piece, “ On the Banks of the Old Kishwaukee,” introduces the shot of Americana that slightly deviates from the artist’s specialty. This song serves as an ode to the baptisms he witnessed while walking the banks of the river. Although the lyrics are sparse and simple, this nostalgic track makes me feel like I am basking on the banks of the majestic Old Kishwaukee.

Walker returns to his roots with my personal favorite “Sweet Satisfaction.” Love-lost, passionate lyrics like “I’d rather be dead babe then see you cry,” combined with intricate fingerpicking make this beautiful song a must-listen.

The last three tracks of this album continue in a more sullen direction. Walker focuses his lyrics on the hardships of life including the feeling of loneliness in his travels and pain of losing someone he is still deeply in love with.

Although still airy in nature, the melodies take on a darker tone in “The High Road,” and “All Kinds of You.” Walker completes the album leaving me in a state of impressed, yet mixed emotions. Finishing up with yet another superb display of his fingerpicking ability, “Hide in the Roses” is a fitting ending to an album that took me, first hand, through a parabola of emotions that the talented Illinois artist so masterfully created.

Walker will tour throughout 2015 in support of Primrose Green including shows with Zola Jesus, Hamilton Leithauser, Hiss Golden Messenger, Kevin Morby, Moon Duo and Steven Gunn and performances at Big Ears Festival, Savannah Stopover Festival,Tomorrow Never Knows and FRZN Fest. A full list of dates is below with more to be announced soon!

You can preorder the album here.
Find out more here.

  • Thu. Mar. 5 - Savannah, GA @ Savannah Stopover Festival (w/ Hiss Golden Messenger) [tix]
  • Sat. Mar. 7 - Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place (w/ Kevin Morby) [tix]
  • Tue. Mar. 10 - Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop (w/ Kevin Morby) [tix]
  • Wed. Mar. 11 - Nashville, TN @ Stone Fox (w/ Kevin Morby) [tix]
  • Thu. Mar. 12 - Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight (w/ Kevin Morby, Moon Duo)
  • Fri. Mar. 13 - Washington, DC @ DC9 (w/ Kevin Morby) [tix]
  • Sat. Mar. 14 - Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle (w/ Kevin Morby) [tix]
  • Sun. Mar. 15 - Brooklyn, NY @ Baby's All Right (w/ Kevin Morby) [tix]
  • Thu. Mar. 19 - Houston, TX @ Walter's Downtown (w/ Steve Gunn)
  • Fri. Mar. 20 - New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa (w/ Steve Gunn)
  • Sun. Mar. 22 - Columbus, GA @ WC Bradley Museum (w/ Steve Gunn)
  • Mon. Mar. 23 - Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree
  • Fri. Mar. 27 - Knoxville, TN @ Big Ears Festival [tix]
  • Sat. Mar. 28 - Louisville, KY @ The New Vintage (w/ Steve Gunn)
  • Sun. Mar. 29 - Columbus, OH @ The Spacebar (w/ Steve Gunn)
  • Wed. Apr. 8 - Copenhagen, DK @ Copenhagen Jazzhouse
  • Thu. Apr. 9 - Oslo, NO @ Internasjonalen
  • Fri. Apr. 10 - Stockholm, SE @ Grand Central
  • Sat. Apr. 11 - Aalborg, DK @ 1000Fryd
  • Sun. Apr. 12 - Rostock, DE @ JAZ
  • Mon. Apr. 13 - Berlin, DE @ Monarch [tix]
  • Sat. Apr. 18 - London, UK @ Sebright Arms [tix]
  • Sun. Apr. 19 - Manchester, UK @ The Castle
  • Mon. Apr. 20 - Bristol, UK @ The Birdcage

Born and raised in the Cape Cod area, Hunter Silva enjoys hiking the White Mountains in New Hampshire and relaxing and playing acoustic guitar on the beautiful Cape Cod beaches. Currently a marketing student with a particular focus in the music industry at Babson College, Hunter aspires to pursue a career in this field.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49