Whether you think he sounds country or not, William Tyler has just been named by Rolling Stone as one of the 10 Country Artists You Need to Know. The magazine described him as a Ry Cooder playing Kraftwerk.
The young guitarist is also compared to jazz great Bill Frisell and country mainstay Buddy Miller. Tyler plays in the Nashville-based band Lambchop when he isn't working on his own music. He'll play songs from his latest recording, Modern Country, at Duke Gardens Wednesday night.
Tyler grew up in the Nashville music scene because his dad, Dan Tyler, was a Music Row songwriter who had hits with Kenny Rogers, LeAnn Rimes and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
"I was never really interested, as a kid, in country music, but I think I was fascinated by the process, recording studios and musical instruments and that kind of thing," William Tyler said. "Obviously, it steered me in that direction."
The track "Albion Moonlight" is reminiscent of Bill Frisell, who is known as a jazz guy, but kind of crosses a lot of boundaries. Tyler calls his style "rural new age."
"I love country music, I think I was just trying to get some context to where I was at as a teenager," he said. "When I started playing music with older musicians in Nashville, I got real interested in the history of country music. I love breaking boundaries down. I wish there was more of it in Nashville. I think there's starting to be."
Tyler plays the Music in the Gardens series in Durham Wednesday night.