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Ryley Walker, Health&Beauty

  • High Noon Saloon 701 East Washington Avenue Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

The Chicago guitarist and songwriter is making his most adventurous music yet. Info/tix

Photo by Evan Jenkins.

Photo by Evan Jenkins.

Ryley Walker has spent much of 2018 exploring a riskier, more personal musical palate. Walker has long been compared to world-weary 1970s folkies like Michael Chapman and Bert Jansch, with albums like 2015's Primrose Green casting him as a pastoral, Astral Weeks-ish singer-songwriter. However, as his recent collaboration with noise-rock band Running shows, there's more to Walker than his solo releases have let on. "I wanted to make something deep-fried and more me-sounding. I didn't want to be jammy acoustic guy anymore," Walker says in notes to his newest album, this year's Deafman Glance. Darker and less free-wheeling than previous albums, it's a raw, challenging record that veers toward progressive jazz-rock. The hazy flute-driven start of "Telluride Speed" gives way to cascading guitar passages before heading into a labyrinth of ever-changing driving riffs.

Walker has always had a knack for assembling bands of top-notch musicians, and his grueling tour schedule results in a very tight band. Live, they typically turn his songs into stretched-out long-form jams, but it will be interesting to see how they tackle Walker's new, more structured material. Hopefully the High Noon Saloon will be a more accommodating venue to the band's extended soloing and Walker's mumbly, Midwestern doofus stage banter; when Walker and band played the Frequency a couple years back, the venue awkwardly tried to cut their two-hour set short by turning the house lights and music on after the end of a song. Walker retorted with a deadpan "We've got one more," which of course ended up being a half-hour searing raga-rock freakout. —Ian Adcock

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