Surprise projects tend to be welcomed with open arms by music listeners and concert goers who enjoy hearing and hopefully even seeing their favorite artists playing varied music in different settings.
William Tyler is a widely respected, seasoned guitar guru in addition to being a well-connected producer, writer, and thought leader, and it seems that any time he records lately, the nature of the music or the project is unique compared to the previous effort.
In early 2021, he and a cohort of pals traveled down to a brewery in Huntsville, Alabama, where they recorded a live performance as William Tyler and the Impossible Truth, cooking up an illusory, kaleidoscopic take on seven tracks — mostly William’s originals, plus one Kraftwerk interpretation — that would eventually be released as the Secret Stratosphere double LP early this year.
Stream William Tyler and The Impossible Truth’s double Merge Records LP Secret Stratosphere via Spotify:
Well received and with Tyler himself enthusiastic about the sounds the foursome had found together, it was momentum to build upon, and that’s exactly what the group did this month with a small tour that began in Knoxville and wrapped up a couple nights ago in Charlottesville, Virginia.
A stop at Ottobar in Baltimore on August 27, William Tyler and The Impossible Truth gave area listeners the chance to take in Tyler in a form that many might not have seen him, as his few local appearances in recent memory have been solo gigs.
But with a full band wielding an improvisational spirit — and a Grateful Dead Stealie decal reflecting off William’s Fender electric — he and this squad mesmerized a Charm City audience with a seamless, entrancing set of music that showed off the incredible skills of each talented player.
Watch the official music video for William Tyler and The Impossible Truth’s “Area Code 601” via YouTube:
After serving in different bands, including Silver Jews and Lambchop in his early days, Tyler has come into his own in the past decade writing and recording as a solo musician, and his limitless abilities on the guitar have made him an important contributor to a long list of projects. Writing the soundtrack for the 2020 film First Cow, it became quite clear Tyler is forging an uncommon path in music.
Featuring Luke Schneider on pedal steel, Brian Kotzur on bass and Jack Lawrence on drums, The Impossible Truth pulls its name from Tyler’s 2013 album, his first on the Merge Records label. The outfit takes an inventive approach to songs from across his catalogue, enhancing some of his most recognizable compositions and essentially fusing them together with equal power to dazzle and mollify.
Listen to William Tyler and Luke Schneider’s 2021 EP Understand via Spotify:
Local dignitaries Cris Jacobs and Yasmin Williams were in attendance at the Howard Street venue, where onlookers admired and gazed at this group that was formed and has since been fortified in Nashville, Music City USA.
Though the track progression might have differed from its order on Secret Stratosphere, William and company played the album in its entirety — an amazing display of synergy and a transport into Tyler’s fascinating and ever-changing dimension.
Here are images of William Tyler and The Impossible Truth along with the night’s opening act, Sarah Pinsker, performing at Ottobar in Baltimore the night of August 29, 2023. All photos copyright and courtesy of Casey Ryan Vock.