Tyler Graham is a guitarist from Conway, Arkansas. Playing mostly for his own interest for years, he only recently wanted to get his music out there and play with other people as well as for an audience. What drives him is the power that music holds to “connect and unify” – to span across differences, change hearts and minds and to bring us closer together. In a Little While is Graham’s first major musical project – a culmination of things that have been on his mind while in quarantine. The album itself was inspired by the guitar styles of Trey Anastasio of Phish and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd fame. A graduate student of English, while not playing guitar, Tyler chases tornadoes and writes poetry.
He remarks that this is an album which “explores the essence of memory” and he aims to make his guitar style central to the album, but not dominate it. Thematically, it explores the process of memory, what we prioritize through memory, and what memory does for us in the grand scheme of life.
Starting off is “Lavender Morning” an eight-minute “concept song” of sorts, featuring bird calls, ambient sounding keys ebbing and flowing, and soulful guitar licks in between. The drums drop in after four minutes and if you’ve got headphones on, the keys get “trippy” as they were mixed bouncing back and forth between the ears. There’s something Pink Floyd-ish about this one that I liked and rightly so, as Graham mentions Gilmour being one of his influences. “A Ballad for Memory” features louder bird calls and a female voice stating some words I can barely make out. For the first time, you’ll hear Graham’s voice. He’s got a clean and bright tenor, very lovely – I’d say a cross between Gilmour and Roland Orzabal from Tears from Fears. He also plays more of his clean guitar style and mixes in some piano as well.
“In Queue” is another all instrumental tune and equally as mellow as the opener, although Graham branches out more on guitar and adds some extra flare and texture. He also adds a bit more keyboard and a stronger drum presence, too. He states that the song features a “bluesy mystique and oddly timed shifts, that builds tension and portrays the process of memories being created.” Next, is “To Sleep” and it begins with a recitation of John Keats’ poem by the same name. This one gets a bit trippier on guitars and adds a danceable funk groove. Lyrically, Graham delivers his words in a hip-hop/rap fashion as the words rhyme along with the beat of the tune. This reminded me of something from Floyd’s The Wall, or at least it had that same spirit. “When Things Fall Apart” brings in more bird call songs (one is a mourning dove) and a clear sounding voice of a girl with an echo effect added. Definite Pink Floyd influence here, I’d say. As Graham states, the song is about the effects of a lost relationship and how we deal with loss on a grander scale.
“Blue Shift” finds Graham leading in with the acoustic, adding layered textures on the keys with nice effects and just enough rumbling drums in the background to add some depth. This one by far was my favorite instrumental, although Graham adds a few lines of words at the end. There seemed to be a lot going on overall, a feast for the ears for sure.
A spacious and “lighter” sounding song, in my opinion. Ending this interesting journey is “Watch the Flowers Grow.” Graham sounds mature beyond his years – perhaps it’s the words he sings. Musically, it’s just his voice and guitar, but his message is timeless and calls us to reflect on life’s sweeter moments and the people we’ve shared them with. Graham says that the song “speaks volumes to our current situation; quarantine, pandemic, death...maybe we should take this time "to think a while / of the ones we love." A simple and sweet tune to end this short album. Not many artists I know of tap into the lighter and sweeter tones of Pink Floyd’s trademark ambient/spacious style. Tyler Graham pulled it off well on In a Little While.
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