Album review: William Tyler, “Modern Country”

by Jon E. Lynch

William Tyler, “Modern Country”

Available: Now via Merge Records as a download, CD and LP.

William Tyler wants you to remember how things once were. Simpler times. The suggestion may seep and bleed through music, though he never asks you outright. For many years, the Nashville-based artist toured with indie stalwarts Lamb Chop and Silver Jews while honing his delicate and deliberate style of guitar playing. In 2010 Tyler released “Behold the Spirit,” the first record under his proper name, and one-time taste-making music blog Pitchfork referred to it as “the most vital, energized album by an American solo guitarist in a decade or more.” “Modern Country” is William Tyler’s second release for North Carolina-based mid-indie label Merge Records, following 2013’s critically-lauded “Impossible Truth,” and was well worth the three-year wait.

Tyler composed the album in Oxford, Mississippi, and was more than ably backed by multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook (Megafaun, Hiss Golden Messenger, Blind Boys of Alabama, DeYarmond Edison), bassist Darin Gray (Tweedy, Jim O’Rourke) and percussionist Glenn Kotche (Wilco).

Tyler has a made a near perfect album of introspective, purely instrumental guitar music. A summer album, to be sure. An album for wandering grassy fields. An album for cruising alleys on the Southside or Midtown. An album for driving dusty, back-country roads and reflecting on times gone by.

Highly, highly recommended for fans of John Fahey, Steve Gunn, Sandy Bull or Date Palms.

Jon E. Lynch[email protected]

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