Riley Downing turns up to the Betsey Trotwood with tired eyes and a warm smile. He's a little road weary from his travels to and throughout the UK, a few stacked up late nights and the subtle haze of a hangover lingering into the afternoon.
Though for this particular trip he's travelled across the pond solo, Riley has been most notably busy with his New Orleans-based band The Deslondes, following the release of their highly acclaimed summer 2022 album, Ways & Means.
As he settles into his live session in a characteristically laidback fashion, his at-first slightly elusive nature begins to dissipate. Throughout his set, Riley captures the atmosphere of a humid afternoon sat out on a worn front porch, strumming away on a humble acoustic guitar, carefree and comfortable.
'South Dakota Wild One', a standout from Ways & Means, kicks things off. His warm, gravelly baritone drawl takes us back down the winding roads he's wandered, recounting the tales of a young ramblin' man and the free-spirited soul-searchers he encountered along his way.
The sleepy waltz of 'Lullaby' then invites a disarming hush to the room, its endearing sentiment a welcome interlude to the chaos of the capital.
Riley closes his set with the similarly unhurried 'Standing Still', "a song I wrote", he says, "that's a kind of stream of conscious; standing out in the country and watching the planes".
It's an effortless performance that speaks to the power of keeping things simple and grounded. That, you'll find, is how things are often best.
Playing 'South Dakota Wild One', 'Lullaby' and 'Standing Still', this is Riley Downing for the Holler Live Sessions. We hope you love him as much as we do.