Tyler Ramsey is a self-taught guitar-picker who kicked his classical training when he couldn't, or wouldn't, keep up with his homework. "At the time," he told me yesterday, "I didn't have the focus or the patience to stick with it."
Laurie Pearman Tyler Ramsey, seen here at the Tractor in 2008, brings his new solo album, The Valley Wind, to the Fremont Abbey on October 25.
Nevertheless, Ramsey brings melodic and rhythmic sensibilities from the classical canon to his work as a singer-songwriter, and the lead guitarist for erstwhile Seattle indie-rockers Band of Horses. Ramsey brings out the best in BOH frontman Ben Bridwell, who lost Mat Brooke as the tender foil to his abrasive yelps after the band's debut. On BOH's latest, 2010's Infinite Arms, it's the most Ramsey-affected moments -- the acoustic into of "For Annabelle" and the dueling vocals on "Evening Kitchen" -- that shine brightest on an otherwise middling record.But Bridwell is good for Ramsey, too. Ramsey's solo records, including his latest, The Valley Wind, showcase the impressive way he's able to inject intricate guitar licks into the indie-folk pantheon, but they're also prone to wandering tangents in need of direction. A truer mashup of the texture and subtleties Ramsey brings to his solo works with the driving rock and roll Bridwell has in his pocket would be a boon for them both.
"I think the reason I'm in the band is because I have an element I bring," he says. "Everyone's there for that reason. It's not like, 'play it this way.' We come in and do what we do . . . and we put it all together and it ends up being a Band of Horses record."
Indeed, but the man needs a longer leash. Ramsey says Band of Horses are going to go back into the studio to make the follow-up to Infinite Arms. But he said the band has been demoing new material, and he's been writing songs that haven't been earmarked for BOH or his solo silo yet.
"We have a lot of really good songs," he says, "but they're in that early phase where really they could go in a lot of different directions."