If you listen to country music radio, chances are you haven’t heard Tyler Childers. His music wouldn’t be considered “pop country,” which has earned him many supporters among those who prefer “traditional” country music. Childers has a gift for storytelling. Whether he is singing about his wife (which he does a lot) or his childhood bus route, Childers does so with incredible detail. You can hear Childers’ emotions in his striking, twangy voice. His voice almost quivers at times, especially during live performances (which are very much worth a watch), illustrating that he has truly poured his soul into his songs. Childers has said that he hopes his music gives people insight into the “life of a Kentucky boy” and while he certainly seems to succeed in doing so, I feel that any person from anywhere can relate to the themes that he sings about.
“Universal Sound,” from Purgatory
“Universal Sound” is a song that you should really listen to with headphones. The production on this song, particularly right at the beginning, is incredible. It starts with a cosmic guitar line that you can physically feel bouncing back and forth between your ears when listening with headphones. “Universal Sound” is from Childers’ first album, Purgatory, which he produced alongside Sturgill Simpson, who clearly played a significant role in this song in particular. Simpson has an album titled Metamodern Sounds in Country Music on which he experiments with similar spiritual and cosmic sounds that you don’t often hear in country music. “Universal Sound” is a prime example of how Childers breaks the mold of today’s pop country and if you only listen to one song on this playlist, it should be this one.
“All Your’n,” from Country Squire
“All Your’n” is Childers’ love letter to his wife from the road. Childers opens up about the struggles of being away from his wife as a touring musician, which, as he alludes to, he is also very dedicated to. The piano and bass guitar take hold in this song yet Childers still manages to make it sound distinctly country. When listening to the beautiful piano and Childers’ heartfelt lyrics, it’s hard not to think about the people you love.
“Country Squire,” from Country Squire
“Country Squire” is the most uptempo song on this playlist. The title track to Childers’ second album, “Country Squire” talks about his desire to provide a comfortable life for his wife and (future) children and the struggles on the path to doing so. Childers depicts a goal that most everybody can relate to while using vivid imagery unique to his own life in Appalachia, such as the smell from the nearby paper mill. He also puts his creativity on display with particularly imaginative lyrics, talking about “turnin’ [his] songs into two-by-fours” in order to renovate his old camper, the Country Squire. With “Country Squire,” Childers is able to take a serious topic and create a more upbeat song that you can’t help but sing along to.