Ryley Walker is doing his best Van Morrison impression on the cover of Primrose Green. Walker is clearly influenced by Morrison — you can hear it in his unbridled vocal ad-libs among other things — but Primrose Green is not a ’70s concept album by any means. It swerves into the kind of expertly picked guitar work that flung Steve Gunn from obscurity into a deal with Matador, then circles back for a slow-burning psychedelic churn that drives the word “folk” right out of your mind. There’s an examination of the divine in the spiral of Walker’s funk-prodding, an exterior posturing even when the songs get their most insular. On Primrose Green he’s a Moses wandering the wilderness with a whole tribe at his disposal: Drummer Frank Rosaly, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, bassist Anton Hatwich, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, keyboardist Ben Boye, electric guitarist Brian Sulpizio, and violist Whitney Johnson all contributed to the sprawling record. But like Morrison, Walker’s personality looms with purpose over this host of musicians, imbuing a sense of urgency and ebullience into even the more subdued numbers. Listen to the entire album via NPR.
Primrose Green is out 3/31 via Dead Oceans.