A few months ago I was complaining a to friend about the lack of people under 30 making exciting folk music these days. I wondered if the art-form was outdated, made quaint by technological advances and young people not wanting to play introspective and subtle music. Soon after this discussion I discovered Ryley Walker, a guy in his mid-20s from Rockford, Illinois, whose music is firmly planted in the open-ended folk experimentation of the late-’60s and early-’70s. There’s no way to listen to Primrose Green and not be reminded of guys like John Martyn, Van Morrison (the album cover has elements of both Astral Weeks and His Band & Street Choir), and Tim Buckley. Buckley’s influence looms largest on the album, with the jazz musicians behind Walker creating a mood similar to Buckley’s Happy/Sad and Blue Afternoon. At times Walker colors so much within the lines set down by his inspirations that the album feels redundant, but he’s so damn good at it you can’t help but be captivated. Walker’s voice falls somewhere in the neighborhood of Tim Buckley and his guitar playing is top notch, but it’s the way Walker uses those tools with the musicians around him that makes Primrose Green so strong. I don’t usually get excited by jamming, but it’s a highlight here, with the band often taking off into transcendent flights of fancy that can overshadow the songs they were born out of. Take the title track for example. The vocals and lyrics – inspired by a psychedelic cocktail Walker gives the recipe for on the back cover – are solid, but it peaks when the guitar and piano players lay down expressive solos over the inspired drums and double bass. No matter how you slice it, this is powerful stuff, and Walker’s talents prove that folk music is alive and well.