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Songs We Love: Ryley Walker, 'The Roundabout'

According to Ryley Walker, "the roundabout is the beginning and end of the universe. The cyclical motion of good and bad."

"It's also a tavern," Walker adds — perhaps in an effort to reign in the heavy cosmological metaphor hidden inside the lyrics of "The Roundabout," the second track released from his forthcoming album Golden Sings That Have Been Sung.

Ryley Walker, <em>Golden Sings That Have Been Sung</em>
/ Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist
Ryley Walker, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

Walker's virtuosic guitar work is muted on this track, joined by subtle but bubbly piano and keys under the direction of producer and former Wilco multi-instrumentalist LeRoy Bach. The result is a lovely summertime canvas that allows Walker to captivate the listener with sparse but vivid lyrics. One part Galileo and one part Charles Bukowski, the characters in Walker's song revolve like celestial bodies around a neighborhood dive bar. Jovial new fathers-to-be, generous types who can't afford to buy a round, patrons who lament the diminishing returns of a $10 lotto ticket — you can find them all in "The Roundabout."

Golden Sings That Have Been Sung is a homecoming album of sorts. Recorded in Walker's adopted hometown of Chicago after a grueling year on the road, the album is entwined with the Windy City. So, when deciding where to shoot the video for "The Roundabout" with director Joe Martinez Jr., it's no surprise that Walker chose a uniquely Chicago locale: the Independence Day celebration in the West Side neighborhood of Pilsen.

"Fourth of July in Pilsen is the height of summer in Chicago," Walker says. "Dozens of crews with ad hoc explosives and a beer in hand make for a blitzkrieg celebration [that is] forever my favorite part of summer in the city."

Golden Sings That Have Been Sung comes out Aug. 19 on Dead Oceans.

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