Former Band of Horses guitarist and co-writer readies forthcoming album, 'For the Morning,' and partners with My Morning Jacket's Carl Broemel on duo tour
Tyler Ramsey lives near Mount Pisgah, one of the bigger mountains on the Blue Ridge Parkway, southwest of Asheville, North Carolina. It's a postcard-worthy setting, and that natural environment tends to make its way into Ramsey's songs.
“I think it has a huge impact on what I do,” Ramsey said recently by phone from his home. “I do get out in the mountains a lot. … Sometimes it gives me the opportunity to get the space that I need to work out lyric ideas in my head while I'm walking in the woods. There's something about the rhythm of walking in the woods that can help songs. It's helped me finish songs that were being stubborn. Just having that solitude is important for the way that I write.”
Ramsey wrote some of his forthcoming album, For the Morning (out April 5 on Fantasy Records), during his tenure as lead guitarist and co-writer in Band of Horses, a group he departed after 10 years in 2017. Other songs took shape at home during bleary-eyed nights as he tried to lull his then-infant daughter to sleep by playing guitar or piano.
“She didn't sleep very well for a long time, and still kind of doesn't, but I spent a lot of time with her in a carrier when I was home from tours,” he said. “I'd have her in a carrier and be playing the piano with her asleep on my chest. ‘For the Morning' came directly from that experience, and that time of being a parent for the first time. I don't know if the lyrics really reflect that, but the mood of it does.”
Ramsey, a Cincinnati native, made home demos of the songs and then headed to Louisville to record the follow up to his 2011 album, The Valley Wind, with engineer Kevin Ratterman and musician Seth Kauffman (Floating Action). In the process, Ratterman invited other Louisville musicians to come by and play on various For the Morning songs. Joan Shelley contributes gorgeous harmonies on “Cheap Summer Dress,” and Nathan Salsburg lends his guitar work to an instrumental track. There are cameos from Thad Cockrell and Molly Parden, and pedal steel player Russ Paul helped transform Band of Horses track “Evening Kitchen” into a Southern send-up, now titled “Evening Country.”
For this tour, which will make a stop at Rumba Cafe on Monday, Feb. 25, Ramsey is partnering with Carl Broemel, a solo musician best known for his guitar work in My Morning Jacket.
“We're going to do each other's music. I'm going to go hang out with him for a couple of days, and we're going to rehearse, but we've both been at home working on each other's songs,” Ramsey said, then chuckled. “We were laughing, because Carl and I have never played music together.”
But Ramsey isn't worried. He's excited. Sometimes shaking things up can transform his music in ways he never anticipated. “These songs have already been going through a lot of change,” he said. “It seems like these songs are taking on a really cool new meaning.”