Weekly 40-Watt #3: William Tyler

Weekly 40-Watt is a feature where I listen to an album or band, new or old, for the first time and jot down some notes on it.

Today’s focus is William Tyler, a guitarist who played in the band Lambchop for a long time and who has put out eight of his own releases, most often associated with Merge Records throughout his solo career. The band Lambchop is worth looking into on its own — here is an Essentials playlist from Apple Music for them — and I would especially recommend them for fans of alt-country acts like Limbeck. Easy to see here where a band like Limbeck could have taken plenty of influences from this band.

Tyler’s solo releases — at least the two I’ve listened to — generally fit into the alt-country bill, but they’re both completely instrumental efforts. The focus today is 2016’s Modern Country and the just-released-yesterday Goes West. His music is straightforwardly beautiful, and I most enjoy it for the world-building I can perceive in his LPs.

Both Modern Country and Goes West take you on a bit of a ride; Tyler has a really distinct guitar sound, perhaps not on the level of something like Dire Straits or The Allman Brothers or Boston, but I think if you listen to his music enough, you’d be able to recognize his guitar playing after only a few seconds afterward. I think each album really sets up and builds on its own sound, each unique and distinct enough to be quite separate from the other.

The guitar work is wonderful, often layered three or more tracks deep. His composition skills are fantastic and these albums have proven perfect for listening while at work or for a relaxing listen in the car. Modern Country is also very much a Sunday morning type of album to me, a beautiful companion for coffee and a book. It helped me fend off the itch I was feeling when I was searching for some country-leaning things recently, and I think Goes West will feature just as heavily into my rotation now as Modern Country did when I found it last year.