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Entries in Tompkins Square (2)


Ryley Walker

Being on a record label's mailing list is not always productive, but Tompkins Square will seldom steer you wrong...

They have just drawn my attention to an imminent album from a young singer/songwriter/guitarist from Chicago called Ryley Walker. After one listen, I've placed my order.

His singing style is uncannily like that of the late, great Bert Jansch. He's a mean guitar picker. And the arrangements are great too, featuring some lovely viola (possibly the most underused instrument in rock) and a drummer who could be Pentangle's Terry Cox.

That all may sound artificial and knowingly retro, but the end product strikes me as organic and convincingly in the here and now. I'm going to enjoy getting to know it.

There's a nice video here and you can stream the whole album here.


And back to Michael Chapman...

As you know, this has been my year of getting into Michael Chapman - finally seeing him play live and catching up on his hugely impressive (and hugely enjoyable) back catalogue.

Then along comes this cherishable compilation from Tompkins Square Oh Michael, Look What You've Done...

The serendipity of a track from Two Wings was enough to persuade me to invest, even though the label apparently couldn't cope with the logistical challenge of getting a 55 minute set onto vinyl... 

There's a really interesting range of contributors doing their own thing with Michael's songs - and, often, very effectively making them their own. There are the good compilation's twin joys here of finding new artists you then want to go and find more of (for me, in particular, Hiss Golden Messenger's fiddle-n-drone and Black Twig Pickers' rootsy stomp), and hearing known, reliable quantities in new settings (step forward, Lucinda Williams and Thurston Moore). Two Wings are spot on: gorgeously themselves.

Elsewhere, 60s/70s Brit folk-rock is properly represented, through Maddy Prior, Bridget St John and Rick Kemp - though I have to say that the last, a longterm collaborator of Chapman, is the weak link here for me... Meanwhile, Meg Baird gives an amazing impression, decades adrift and on the wrong side of the pond, of being in just that category.

Essentially, there's a wealth of treasurable stuff here - and the stuff you might not treasure is certainly worthy of your interest and attention. Thoroughly recommended.