Tyler Childers Releases a Masterpiece
It’s been a great year for music. I realize that if you listen to the mainstream radio, the idea of great music being released in 2017 seems ridiculous. However, if you live your musical life within the realm of Americana, Texas Country, and independent artists, you’ll quickly notice many tremendous albums of the year (John Moreland, Jason Isbell, and Zephaniah Ohora, to name a few). Tyler Childers’ Purgatory continues this trend magnificently.
Tyler is an artist that I admit I did not listen to much at all prior to this release. After listening through Purgatory about 10 times in its entirety though (no, I’m not exaggerating here), I consider myself a big fan and will look to see him live if possible and will be following any future releases very closely. The album has been gaining headlines from various outlets due to being co-produced by the legendary Sturgill Simpson, but the talent of Childers needs to be held up on its own.
The album has a bluegrass feel throughout, which I think is indicative of Childers’ roots in Kentucky, but also incorporates many elements of real, authentic country music. Childers’ own website describes the album as the following:
A semiautobiographical sketch of Childers’ growth from wayward youth to happily married man, told in the tradition of a Southern gothic novel with a classic noir antihero who may just be irredeemable. Purgatory is a chiaroscuro painting with darkness framing light in high relief. There’s catharsis and redemption. Sin and temptation. Murder and deceit. Demons and angels. Moonshine and cocaine. So much moonshine and cocaine. All played out on the large, colorful canvas of Eastern Kentucky.
It’d be impossible for me to accurately describe the tone of the album better than this, so I’m not going to even try to. I’ll simply state that from start to finish I genuinely enjoyed every track.
Like I just mentioned, I think every song is worth giving many listens, so do yourself a favor and listen to it all. However, there are three songs that stick out to me as the best from the album, so instead of highlighting just one, I’m going to include all three:
I was hooked as soon as he sang the line, “If I had known she was religious, then I wouldn’t have came stoned to the house of such an angel, too fucked up to get back home.” A great song about falling in love with that person who saves your soul.
A song about what to do if you got a tattoo for your significant other, who then broke your heart. In a live recording of the song, he told the audience how the best course of action would to then tattoo a tombstone around it. “I am now her used to be. He is now the one she needs.” The thing that hooked me with this song is the “drop,” if you will, when the steel guitar comes in with the chorus.
The first song off the album that I heard when it was available on Spotify before the full release. A tribute to the fast times lifestyle of being on the road. The line “Lord it’s a mighty hard living, but It’s a damn good feeling to run these roads” says it all.
This album makes a great argument for the best album of the year so far.