Album: Impossible Truth
Artist: William Tyler
Release Date: March 19, 2013
William Tyler is, maybe, the best young fingerpicker left since Jack Rose died, effortlessly balancing the feathery complexities of blur -peed picking with the trapdoor-to-the-eternal mysticism of thrumming sustained drones. Impossible Truth is his second solo album and, like the first, hardly a solo album at all. For one thing, he’s locked in an endless dialogue with himself, overlaying various kinds of guitars in a fluttering, multi-toned conversation, so that even the barest, least orchestrated tracks take on a variegated shimmer. For another, he’s enlisted Nashville veterans to fill out half the cuts, pulling in fellow Lambchop-ers like Luke Schneider and Scott Martin in for pedal steel and drums, recruiting trombone-man-about-town Roy Agee and Chris (yes, grandson of Earl) Scruggs on acoustic bass and lap steel.
Yet Tyler is capable of finding infinite permutations in a single electric guitar’s sounds, as he proves on “The Geography of Nowhere,” the album’s most haunted and lovely track. Here Tyler starts in a bent, smouldery blues mode, his guitar tones wreathed in reverb and wavering like candle flames in an imperceptible breeze. Then the while the player and instrument remain constant, the song changes completely, the guitar now turned to a bucolic, gamboling country folk sound. Before you might have pictured drifts of smoke, neon reflected in rain, late night tables ringed with whiskey glasses, and now you’re thinking bunnies and baby lambs. It’s abrupt but somehow wholly natural when the song shifts again, back to the eerie blues glow, like sticking a landing in some sort of guitar gymnastics meet. And, in fact, most of these songs have multiple movements, distinct changes in style and mood that demonstrate how easily Tyler moves between blues, folk, jazz, baroque classical and psychedelic modes.