William Tyler Goes West
Published Jan 22, 2019There's a lot that can be said about William Tyler's abilities as a guitar player. He has a strong ear for catchy melodies with lasting power, remarkable technical chops, and an easygoing yet evocative composition style. He can make nearly an hour of solo guitar material compelling and immersive (as proven on 2013's Impossible Dream), and Goes West shows Tyler at his relaxed but immersive best.
Album opener "Alpine Star" is probably the best encapsulation of the record; it's an ambitious track filled with twists and turns, and shows off the heavy influence of country and folk. It also contains some great guitar melodies on a record full of them. Tracks like "Call Me When I'm Breathing Again" and "Rebecca" are reminiscent of his solo guitar work, and closer "Our Lady of the Desert" pairs Tyler with accomplished guitarist Bill Frisell.
It's a collaboration that makes a lot of sense. Both players have eclectic catalogues; Frisell has covered territory in jazz, folk and country over his long career, and Tyler has travelled across indie groups, released solo guitar material, and wears his folk and country influence on his sleeve. They both have intricately nuanced yet very accessible songwriting styles, with catchy melodies balancing well with their guitar wizardry.
There's a lot going on in Tyler's music, his compositions are constantly twisting and turning, they evolve before your eyes. His work is the type that rewards repeat listens, with new layers that constantly emerge, and new details waiting to be discovered. It's the sound of confidence in one's abilities as an artist, one who embraces their restlessness and creativity while sounding like he's barely breaking a sweat. (Merge)