Exclaim!'s Top 10 Folk & Country Albums Best of 2016

9. Ryley Walker
Golden Sings That Have Been Sung
(Dead Oceans)
In 2015, Ryley Walker released the best album your friends who like Phish still probably haven't heard but should: Primrose Green, a collection of jammy, jazzy, freewheeling folk songs that would have sounded good whether they lasted for four minutes or 14 (some of them did in concerts).
Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, on the other hand, is a far more restrained affair. Where listening to his previous album felt like getting caught in a dense, psychedelic whirl about to fall off its orbit, everything feels simpatico this time around, with each instrument (including Walker's Van Morrison-lite vocals) finding a place to call home in any arrangement. That's a testament to former Wilco multi-instrumentalist LeRoy Bach's strength as a producer as much as to Walker's growing strength as a songwriter.
Golden Sings is the perfect reintroduction to a talented composer and performer whose career is about to reach new heights.
Matthew Ritchie