On 2010's Behold the Spirit, guitarist William Tyler created a mysterious six- and twelve-string universe peppered with inventive harmonic and stylistic techniques and odd ambient sounds. He asked musical questions and never expected answers. By contrast, The Impossible Truth evokes a mercurial musical past (the shadows of the '70s singer/songwriter era in Los Angeles and his hometown of Nashville), and an American geography that has been created, unmade and remodeled. Opener "Country of Illusion" (named for a chapter in Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert about the disappearing nature of the American West) approximates a raga. Tyler's layered, fingerpicked electric guitars are framed by Chris Scruggs' walking bass, Luke Schneider's lonesome pedal steel, and the treated trombones of Roy Agee. The melody is open, spacious, and at times, winsome. The solo guitar piece "The Geography of Nowhere" (named after James Howard Kunstler's book) is drenched in reverb and, after an introductory blues theme, directly references "Paint It Black" before spinning back. "Hotel Catatonia," with Scruggs on lap steel, recalls Judee Sill's gorgeous cathedral-like pop melodies and doesn't musically refer to the Eagles' hit. If anything, the title and music pose the conundrum "how did we get there from there?" This is a guitar "song," its structure touching on Nashville and L.A. country with a cavernous, bell-like sound before enveloping itself in bluegrass picking techniques that embed themselves inside a sunny melodic architecture. "Cadillac Desert" finds the guitarist playing vibes and fuzz bass with his guitar, giving the entire piece a lovely, washed-out feel despite its sweetness. Acoustic guitars make their presences felt on the lovely "Portrait of Sarah" and the labyrinthine "We Can't Go Home." "The Last Residents of Westfall"'s title references a small, fallow town in World of Warcraft's imagined universe. Producer Mark Nevers' use of tapes, Schneider's pedal steel and vibes, and Tyler's guitar and vox organ eventually hollow out an initially sprightly melody that offers an expressionist reverie about what can only be an imagined past. Closer "The World Set Free," is a ten-minute opus named after a dystopian collection by H.G. Wells. It adds Scott Martin on drums. It commences as a sun-drenched, hummable progression that eventually turns back on itself and becomes something alien, emerging as an angular, skeletal trace. The Impossible Truth is more accessible than Behold the Spirit, but it is easily as adventurous, taking hold of places, spaces, and sounds, reimagining and altering them just enough to make the entire recording sound familiar and simultaneously other.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek