There has been nothing short of a truckload of buzz generated around a young Kentucky based singer-songwriter through this past summer. The spotlight, ever so brightly pointing at this young man, putting him out there for those who crave a higher level country sound. It’s deserving too, because after listening to Tyler Childers’ Purgatory, I was left feeling like I had just heard the battle cry of soon-to-be one of the biggest names in country music.
I have held off talking about this album because with all of the buzz surrounding this album, it would get lost in the shuffle. I have spent the past few weeks putting in some time through my headphones and stereo, savoring all that young Childers has to offer. His impressive securement of having Sturgill Simpson produce this album is remarkable. A relative unknown having the opportunity to work with one of the largest names in all of music right now, is special. And that my friends, should be a sentiment to just how much talent Tyler Childers possesses.
One must appreciate the opening track, I Swear (The God) with it’s folky introduction that almost fools you at the start. The opening violin quickly subsides to the bass and plucking of the strings that resembles some sort of mountain music. Pair that with Childers’ smokey Kentuckian vocals, and we have something that resembles perfection. Much like Sundy Best, it is a testament to being able to do less with more. There’s no rock band backing up here, just a glorious ensemble of strings and light drum work that intertwine to the lyrics with ease.
Much of the discussion around Childers has been his perspective on creating authentic music. For me, when I was younger, I was naive in how I viewed many artists. I always thought that because they sang about something, they actually experienced it or had some deep connection. It was not until I was a little older that I realized how much of the music industry operated. The focus was less on the personal connection and more on padding the wallet. In order words: What can I sing about that will sell? There are those occasional breakouts that are able to bring their music to the masses with true depth and meaning, but much of that has been kept in the underground.
Hearing some of the songs on Purgatory will make you feel like Childers is climbing hand over hand on the ladder that leads to the mainstream arena. Sure, he will need some continued exposure and belief from radio, but the authenticity that comes from his music is undeniable. The ease of listening on a track like Born Again, which he refers to as his version of reincarnation, is incredibly satisfying. It sounds silly when you take a minute to think about it, but I found it to be one of my favorite tracks on the album. The band that was put together on this album really comes alive on this track, and had me continuously hitting replay.
The ability to relate to each song, whether a personal experience or not, is surely going to be one of Childer’s most recognized attributes. Hell, listening to Universal Sounds, we get the experience of mediation that Childers has said he was seeking at one point in his own life. It revolves around that deeper spiritual connection and forgetting what is around us, whirring by. It’s delivery alone paints a vivid scene of someone being up on a mountain, arms spread wide, taking in everything that mother nature has to offer. Essentially getting away from everything, and going back to the root of natural life - even if only for a short time.
As the music world continues to learn about the song-writing prowess of Tyler Childers, we can all be so grateful that Sturgill Simpson decided to produce this album, along side David Ferguson. Sturgill didn’t push his own agenda when it came to this career defining album, Purgatory. Rather, he added just what he felt necessary and let the unmistakable vocals of Tyler Childers shine through, exactly the way Childers knows how.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
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