Lawrence County, Kentucky is in the heart of Appalachia. Appalachia is the heart of country music and all its derivatives, every great country album has to thank the people of Appalachia for pioneering its sound. Tyler Childers is the newest product of Appalachia, hailing from Lawrence County and already playing country like some of the best to do it.
Tyler’s style of bluegrass, country and folk fusion is worlds above the garbage pushed by the parasites up in Nashville. The songs he sing don’t sound like they came from the hay day of bluegrass, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He has a style that manages to avoid the muddled down and ruined sound of modern “country,” while still sounding fresh and inventive. His lyrics are old-souled in their message, but sound like the words of a 27 year-old in 2019, in a real way, not a manufactured pop country way.
Released in 2017, Purgatory was Childer’s breakthrough album, racking up universal praise and shooting him to sold out shows in huge venues. The single “Feathered Indians” from the album was a huge hit through the alt-country community. With its wonderful instrumental, insanely catchy chorus and beautiful imagery, it should be in everyone’s playlist.
Tyler isn’t explicitly right-wing by any measure of the imagination, he seems rather apolitical in his song writing, but he does sing songs about the plight of Appalachians. In his song “Coal,” Tyler sings about the young men who give their lives in coal mines, singing:
Now lemme tell you something about the gospel
And make sure that you mark it down
When God spoke out ‘Let there be light’
He put the first of us in the ground.From “Coal,” Bottles & Bibles album
Being that his father was a miner, and just coming from that area of Dixie, this is obviously important to Childers, as it should be to all of us. Our young men are doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the world with hardly any representation or protection. “Nose On the Grindstone” is another great song, Tyler sings about a promise to his father to avoid pills and work hard.
“House Fire” is Tyler’s latest single, it is far from my favorite song he’s released, but the driving instrumental is reminiscent of old bluegrass. The more important point, is that this song is the first single from his first album since Purgatory. The album, Country Squire, is set to release in the upcoming months, it will be great to see how Childers responds to his rapid rise in stardom.
If you’ve got the time, give this ‘ole Appalachian boy a minute and check out one of his songs, you won’t be disappointed. Country Squire will be released August 2nd, and Tyler will be on tour starting in June, chances are he’ll play a show near you sometime this summer.
-By Johhny Goy
Oh, I'm a good old Rebel, now that's just what I am; For this "Fair Land of Freedom" I do not give a damn! I'm glad I fit against it, I only wish we'd won, And I don't want no pardon for anything I done.