September 26, 2011

Fuel/Friends Chapel Session #7 :: Tyler Ramsey (Band of Horses)

The tall and lanky Tyler Ramsey is best known as the guitarist for Band of Horses, but wise folks also caught on to his two solo albums (s/t debut in 2004, A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea in 2008) and his upcoming third solo release is out this week. Hearing him open the two recent Colorado BOH shows with his own material was stunning. On a recent Saturday he met me for coffee at the shop by my house, and we headed over to sit beneath the tall arches of Shove Chapel for an hour of intricately-wrought magic.

This session is easier to write about as one complete unit, because all of the songs Tyler performed seemed to radiate imagery of birds and angels, songs of flying away and rivers of sorrow that flow out into the blackness of the night.

I thought as I sat on the edge of the stage, my back against the giant stone pillar, that this was the most celestial-feeling of the chapel sessions so far. Tyler’s voice is high and vulnerable, and in that fragility can be all the more powerfully piercing. He reminds me some of the effect Neil Young has on me, making me feel helpless, or Mark Kozelek in the smoky honesty, and sad glory. The echo of his voice seemed right at home in that space.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever seen Band of Horses live, but it’s spellbinding to watch Tyler’s fingers fly over the guitar strings. From a few feet away I kept furrowing my brow trying to keep up with the sounds I was hearing and how quickly and effortlessly his fingers moved on the frets. Tyler played a worn Gibson Folksinger guitar from the 1960s, one he bought in a pawn shop in Fletcher, North Carolina. It seemed to somehow carry all sorts of stories within the wood.

These songs come from Tyler’s third album, The Valley Wind, out this week on Fat Possum. For as beautiful as these chapel arrangements are (note the loooong extended intro Tyler puts on “1000 Black Birds”), the record takes it to a whole new, lush level — very highly recommended.

Tyler ended his set with a wrenching cover of “All Through The Night,” which my ’80s-loving sister recognized immediately from her pew seat as being a huge Cyndi Lauper hit. Since the ’80s usually give me hives, I learned from Tyler that this was written by Jules Shear. The way Tyler performs it here, it sounds like an old country rambler on the AM radio, completely stripped of any veneer. It was perfect.

Take and digest this session as a gorgeous, substantive whole:

Angel Band
1000 Black Birds
The Nightbird
All Through The Night (Jules Shear/Cyndi Lauper cover)



  • Especially like the 1,000 Blackbirds. Love the long intro. It could stand alone as a ‘fingerstyle’ guitar song, but the vocals put it over the top. Awesome. The whole set must have been amazing to hear ringing through the chapel.

    Jon — September 26, 2011 @ 11:10 am

  • Awesome, Heather. Thanks for this.

    I haven’t seen BoH live since 2006, but after your review of their live show and this Chapel Session, I’m back on the bandwagon next time they’re in SF.

    Jason Shane — September 26, 2011 @ 11:24 am

  • Put me in coach. I’m ready to play today! Or just, you know, listen. I’m so glad this got captured.

    Dainon — September 26, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  • Damn, that Cyndi Lauper cover: sweet and tender, wise and winsome. Delightful. Glad these sessions are producing such power, Heather.

    boyhowdy — September 26, 2011 @ 8:55 pm

  • bummed i missed that cover-such a cyndi lauper junkie and looove this song

    kc — September 26, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

  • WOW! This session are just amazing. Introducing me to new music and beautifully recorded. Thanks Heather and keep up the great work. You are one of the best!

    el bandito — September 27, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  • Found Tyler on spinner at work last week, you can play full free albums.Never heard of him. Then I played “The Valley Wind”I was completely moved. I’m going to head out and pick up his work.
    I look forward to seeing him live and hope he makes his way back to the bay area soon. Thanks Heather beautiful web site.

    Michael — October 2, 2011 @ 12:31 am

  • No posts in a week means that Heather has been listening to the Wilco, Lisa Hannigan and Laura Marling albums nonstop, amiright?

    Jay — October 2, 2011 @ 10:16 am

  • Jeez, this guy is amazing. I have been a Band of Horses fan for some time but I only recently started listening to Tylers solo work. Just incredible. I could listen to this all day.

    Aaron — October 22, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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