Release Date: Nov 16, 2018
Record label: Dead Oceans Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Ryley Walker cultivated a reputation as an internet jester so news that he decided to cover the unreleased Dave Matthews Band album The Lillywhite Sessions initially seemed to be a prank. Walker may crack wise on Twitter, but he takes his music seriously, so his version of this shelved 2001 album is very sober indeed. Sobriety isn't a word associated with DMB at the dawn of the 2000s.
Ryley Walker's music is a stormy, searching amalgam of proggy British folk, primitive guitar, free improv, and Chicago jazz-rock. He draws from a deep well of Serious Record influences, the stuff you discover once you've burned through the standard canon. But to get there, you've got to start somewhere, and for Walker, the journey began with a single "Two Step." See, Walker wasn't raised on Alan Bishop or the AACM; he came up a Dave Matthews fan, perhaps working out the changes to "Seek Up" in the space between bongloads.
Indie-rock cognoscenti: did you know there is a Dave Matthews album by the name Lillywhite Sessions? Some quick history for the uninitiated: ● 1999: The Dave Matthews Band begin a follow-up to 1998's Before These Crowded Streets with longtime producer Steve Lillywhite. The sessions are deemed unreasonably morose and scrapped by the band and RCA. ● 2001: A fan leaks the sessions online using a primitive dial-up modem (let's say a 28K modem).
Frequently as abstract as the artwork the graces its cover, Ryley Walker's 5th album sees the Chicago based songwriter taking his fancy for jazz-laden folk jams into a whole new meadow of experimentation. Deafman Glance rebukes traditional song structures, spiralling on artistic whims and eddying in introspective fancies: darker, moodier and far more intense than previous material, this album will provide no joy for listeners hoping for a collection of the breezy, summertime, after-the-barley-harvest-smoking-a-doobie songs its predecessors occasionally offered. While this may be a disappointment for some fans, it doesn't represent an erratic change in direction.
The Lillywhite Sessions by Ryley Walker "God dammit I do a Leonard Cohen hit piece and release a DMB covers record and somehow Chainsmokers get this year's biggest eyeroll from music journalists. That was supposed my title. And I actually chain smoke. Bastards." Ryley Walker If you follow Ryley Walker's Twitter feed, you might occasionally wonder if his outsize, shit-talking media persona overshadows the music he makes, which is, after all, a rather wonderful amalgam of dream-haunted folk and improvisatory jazz.
T here's a history of albums being covered in their entirety, from Laibach's martial reinterpretation of the Beatles' Let It Be to Ryan Adams taking on Taylor Swift's 1989 (and losing). What sets Chicago singer-songwriter Ryley Walker's reappraisal of Dave Matthews Band's The Lillywhite Sessions apart is that the original songs, - atypically downbeat, and recorded in 2000, were never formally released, although they were leaked online soon afterwards, and many ultimately appeared in re-recorded form on 2002's Busted Stuff. Walker considers the album such a guilty pleasure that it warranted a radical reworking.