The Keep, Guildford
**** (FOUR STARS)
There was standing room only in Guildford when Ryley Walker came to town. On stage were four Americans and a Norwegian who regularly play with him. It showed, as this was a consumate performance from a rising star which was a privilege to see in such an intimate venue.
Ryley and the band were obviously enjoying themselves, with most songs weighing in at or over ten minutes, with much improvisation. Many of the songs grew with tempo changes and modulations, having a hypnotic and occasionally psychedelic groove. The set flowed beautifully, with a relaxed and confident feel, sung with conviction and passion. Walker is a troubadour with a growing reputation with influences ranging from John Martyn, Nick Drake and John Redbourne and Jim Morrison, with a slight jazz tinge.
His set included several songs from his critically acclaimed latest album Primrose Green and several cover versions, including Tim Hardin’s If I was a carpenter. Midway through the set the band took a break and Walker played several solo numbers, with the band returning for the final few tracks. He saved perhaps the best until last, his encore was a stunning and spellbinding version of the Van Morrisson track Fair Play.