It would be easy to talk about William Tyler and his new full-length record Impossible Truth (out now on Merge Records) in purely musical terms. Describing his virtuosic instrumental guitar constructions, his sense of adventure and experimentation, but also of his command of melody and hook-driven passages – how Tyler challenges his audience, while rewarding them for focused, repeated listens. We surely could discuss how Impossible Truth is a versatile album that functions not only as a gift for real music fans and critics to bask in for hours on end, but also how the album is refreshing and easy to listen to on a peripheral or cursory level, fun for the whole family for any occasion.
However, it would be better or perhaps truer, in my opinion, to examine William Tyler’s musical explorations through an emotional lens. I like to consider what emotions Tyler’s music induces within me. Overall, I feel a sense of wonderment and possibility. I guess it’s interesting that I feel limitless potential in the music, yet the album is titled Impossible Truth. But, maybe, Tyler is saying that he has stumbled on or even just approached what is impossible to know with certainty – the impossible truths of the world and of the cosmos. Every once in a while, during a tranced listen, I think I can hear Tyler channeling some kind of deeper understanding within his songs’ passages. We are humans though, so our capacity to act as a conduit for this higher plane of erudition is ultimately flawed. But Tyler is able to display the beauty and power of what we cannot fully know or understand in scenes from every day life via his musical snapshots; I hear it in the Appalachian tinged acoustic “Missionary Ridge” or the more surrealistic “Cadillac Desert.” Let’s continue to listen and hope we glean some impossible truths that William Tyler might have found.
William Tyler arrived at the WXPN Performance Studio in the afternoon of April 14th, 2013 before his concert at Ortlieb’s Lounge that night. Thanks to William and Merge Records for the session.