For Goes West William Tyler presents the clearest vision for his Cosmic Country yet. He’s taken a stab in the past and begun to build the mythology, but it’s here that he’s found a way to capture just how the sun dips low on the horizon. Though they appear on the album, Tyler himself doesn’t pick up the electric guitar, focusing solely on the fluid ramble of the acoustic strings to evoke the endless expanse of the American West. He does so with the touch of a craftsman. Within the wilds of fingerpicked guitar there are many guises – the virtuoso, the devout (ragas), the folk hero, the convert – but Tyler approaches picking with a storyteller’s grace. Without so much as a cough the album lays out emotional tales that seem universal – heart swells and salt flats rung through with the pluck of warm strings.
Though he’s clearly quite adept, Tyler steers clear of the virtuoso palette. He’s not working to stun listeners into submission, but rather to lull them into bliss. The album is a warm companion, a sense memory, a feeling of loss just off the tip of the tongue. There are moments that shudder to life like someone just stepped on your grave, but left a flower in passing. There’s something about the record that seems to slow time entirely, rolling by with the white line hypnotism of a desert highway, letting the scenery unfold in a panorama that’s too big to hold onto from a seat not big enough to stretch your legs. In that way its both too big to fathom and so intimately close that Tyler’s strings wrap around you and hold you safe like a seatbelt.
The pace of modern life is regrettably rushed, if it’s not necessarily always frantic, it’s at least overwhelming in its grab for our attentions. Goes West is a magnetic pull away from that feeling. Even when the record is on in the background it slows the listener down and adds a few more colors to the day. With this Tyler has made a statement about slow living, staring just a touch longer, and letting the ache of life burrow in a little deeper.
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