William Tyler has already shown his gifts as a guitar player for hire (Will Oldham, Kurt Wagner, Silver Jews, Candi Staton) and with his impressive if slightly hesitant solo debut, Behold The Spirit. That album is still worth hearing – and having – but it’s his latest, Impossible Truth that shows a master at work, the young Nashville-born guitarist lays out a sprawling sonic field-trip of an album, Cadillac Desert is like all of Joni Mitchell’s Hejira album condensed down to solo guitar, We Can’t Go Home Again is a sweet hymn that turns into the complicated weave of lines James Blackshaw offers, and on the opening Country of Illusion we have one of several references to what the late great John Fahey might have taken from post-rock as an influence.
Tyler’s riffs and lines curl inward, they circle one another, the lovely chime of his 12-string fingerpicking is reminiscent of Blackshaw’s rare turns on the electric guitar, there’s lovely, evocative lap steel shimmering alongside too.
The Geography of Nowhere has a reverb-soaked bluesy intro before tracing around Paint It Black and then heading off to the late night reveries of John Martyn via Chris Forsyth.
And that’s it actually – think of those two players (as instrumentalists) for what Tyler is doing and where he is placing it. Yes, there’s a folksy feel, a folkishness, to his sound and it’s rooted – in so many ways – in the 1970s, both the Californian nonchalance of the country-rock supergroups and session-star albums as well as the spiralling guitar sounds of modern players who hint – just a tad – at that bygone era but search forward.
So whilst Tyler comes from Fahey in some sense, he also sits alongside Steve Gunn.
And the masterful density of the album’s most surprising – and rewarding – tracks, say Cadillac Desert or The Last Residents of Westfall – is where you’ll find the moments of pure joy and beauty as a listener. This wizard conjuring a masterful spell. It all culminates in the final track, The World Set Free, an American road-trip in song.
Impossible Truth is impossible to deny. The playing is stunning, the scope is vast, the sound is wonderful. It’s a joy to get swept up inside. When the end of The World Set Free turns to vicious storms of guitar, the band finally rising below that perfect simmer you know you’ve experienced something truly special. One of the great albums-as-art; one of the great musical works of art.