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Ryley Walker | The Lillywhite Sessions | Vinyl

Ryley Walker | The Lillywhite Sessions | Vinyl

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Ryley Walker cultivated a reputation as an internet jester so news that he decided to cover the unreleased Dave Matthews Band album The Lillywhite Sessions initially seemed to be a prank. Walker may crack wise on Twitter, but he takes his music seriously, so his version of this shelved 2001 album is very sober indeed. Sobriety isn't a word associated with DMB at the dawn of the 2000s. Matthews' love of drink isn't hidden -- the man owns his own line of wine, Dreaming Tree -- but he imbibed a little bit too much during the recording of The Lillywhite Sessions, a move that coincided with a general aimlessness within the ranks after the group vaulted to superstardom. Eventually, drummer Carter Beauford instigated the shelving of The Lillywhite Sessions -- so dubbed because it, like its three predecessors, was produced by Steve Lillywhite; the record was never officially titled -- but the group didn't abandon the material, choosing to revive nine of its 12 songs for 2002's Busted Stuff.
By that point, The Lillywhite Sessions became one of the first unreleased albums to leak on the internet, its circulation assisted by DMB fans who were already trading live tapes. Despite Busted Stuff featuring renditions that weren't dramatically different in arrangement, The Lillywhite Sessions retained a cult following because it had a downer vibe unique among DMB albums. Certainly, that dark atmosphere -- dubbed "sad bastard" by Matthews -- drew Walker to the record, but his version of The Lillywhite Sessions isn't especially gloomy. At times, he ratchets up the darkness -- "Diggin' a Ditch" opens with a furious open-string guitar drone, his "Bartender" veers into claustrophobia, "Monkey Man" is turned into a cloistered clutter -- but he also keeps an eye on both Matthews' elliptical songs and DMB's loose-limbed jazz fusion. In other words, Walker plays it exceedingly straight, even when he's delivering good-time numbers like "Kit Kat Jam." This po-faced sincerity winds up underscoring Walker's debt to Dave Matthews Band -- they now seem like a clear influence on his adventurous folk-jazz -- while also highlighting the imagination behind the original set of songs. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

  • Format: Vinyl
  • Genre: Pop





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