Building up a steady head of public interest, Tyler Childers follows his three singles of last year with his debut album co-produced by Sturgill Simpson no less. And it could well have been hewn from the same wood as Sturgill’s earlier releases. Lots of guitars, rebel lyricism and fiddles with nods to Nashville, Appalachia and Steve Earle particularly with the ‘Copperhead Road’ fuelled ‘Whitehouse Road’ – note the repeat of the word road to enable such comparisons.
Childers has a classic voice steeped in the yodel/ keen tradition and he paints his songs to highlight this great instrument. ‘Banded Clovis’ being a case in point with its triumvirate of voice, fiddle and banjo each vying for attention on a backbone of snare. Evocative and honest. And this is the central tenet of the album. It feels honest even on the missteps such as the trying too hard opener ‘I swear (to God)’ and the echoey ‘Universal Sound’ which has an admirable ambition that just somehow fails to catch fire. A shame.
Top track is ‘Honky Tonk Flame’ with its desperate lyric and swampy guitar and plaintive harmonies. Trad country through a diffuse lense. Cracking. An interesting start to a career that is on an upward trajectory.