The Road Less Traveled
The second song on William Tyler’s new LP, Impossible Truth, is entitled “The Geography of Nowhere.” This is the same title of a polarizing book written in the mid-’90s by James Howard Kunstler about urban America’s fall from grace, how once vibrant cities were neutered by urban renewal and suburban sprawl. What could this book and a collection of songs have in common?
This album is a revelation! Composed entirely of instrumentals, these songs resonate with more emotion and soul than most lyrical songs. Tyler has something to say about our world, and is able to communicate passionately through his mastery of acoustic and electric guitar, composition, and tasteful production. To listen to this record is to be transported through a shape-shifting American landscape. Sun-dappled trees are mournful, delayed guitars and dew-dropped plains are acoustic guitars. Pedal steels weep silently in the background, a poignant reminder of what trains used to mean.
Impossible Truth‘s opening cut, “Country of Illusion,” is a lazy drive through lightly foggy, mountainous terrain at 6AM. The sun breaks through the trees as the song crescendos and, at other times, is obscured by a mountain, but its warmth is ever-present. The absence of words makes sense; the driver is letting the passengers draw their own conclusions. The production is impeccable, as it is on the whole record. Every guitar tone and drum hit exists in the exact space it needs to. hearkening back to the lazy, cool sounds of early 1970s SoCal records.
The final cut, “The World Set Free,” feels like the end of the line. If the trip began with hope and promise in “Country of Illusion,” it ends here with a cautionary tale about hubris. The song collapses into a climax of fury and feedback, ending with a 2 minute dénouement of delayed guitar and reflection, a lone guitar quietly repeating a mantra. Like the best teacher, Tyler doesn’t scream his opinions in your face — it’s up to you to listen.