Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Artist of the Day: William Tyler

While mid-year lists are clogged to bursting with your Kanyes and MBVs and Daft Punks, all those high-profile, blog-crashing, billboard buying acclaim magnets, some truly excellent work from the first half of 2013 has been tragically panned, forgotten, or just plain drowned out by surrounding waves of hype emanating from more mythical records. If you’re asking me, the award for most underappreciated goes to Nashville’s William Tyler. Then again, does he really have anyone but himself to blame? Not a lot of people are actively seeking out drowsy fingerstyle acoustic guitar music these days. If that description makes you think “Kurt Vile!” yes, it sounds a little like Kurt Vile, if Kurt gave up on singing and became really, incredibly talented at playing guitar. Actually, “play” seems to be a soft-sell. Tyler is a wrangler, shaking out of his instrument a power so base and primal that words seem irrelevant - singing seems like a cop-out. 

Impossible Truth, his second record, which came out earlier this year, is a dreary journey down neglected side-roads. That may sound romantic, but it’s more of a tragedy. Inner America is (or has become) a splatter-painted wasteland of chain fast food and cheap motels, casting a shadow of sameness over what is, beneath the plastic veneer, a flowering, diverse and fascinating country.  So, the melancholia of Impossible Truth is a kind of mourning - mourning for a heartland that, within memory, was once free and unbridled by poorly maintained billboards. That old spirit can be felt, though, in purposeful chord strokes floating off forever in to the sky (which, by the way, is much bigger than we think) that convey a tiny fraction of the majesty but are enough to instill a bit of wonder in the comfort of your own home. 

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