TYLER CHILDERS-COUNTRY SQUIRE
This review is a few weeks late, but I’m okay with that. The reason is that I wanted to completely dive into this album. I wanted to become one with this album. I wanted to feel this album. And writing a review as soon as it came out would not have done that. Yeah, I could have gotten an advance copy, but to be honest I forgot about it. Life happens.
Anyways, Tyler Childers isn’t a name new to Tuned Up. I first wrote about him 4 years ago. I saw him at a festival in Lexington, KY that I wrote about. He also has been a discovery artist here, and I got the chance to review his show at Newport Music Hall a few years back. And since day one, he has been an artist that I have been drawn to. There is something about the way he writes that just pulls you in and that is something I have always loved about Country music, the honesty in it all. The real-life stories.
This isn’t a new obsession for me. I have always enjoyed country music; it just comes in waves. Growing up in South Georgia I watched CMT more than MTV, be it when I was over a friend’s house, hanging with my grandmother (she only watched CMT and The Andy Griffith Show), or at home. I recall sitting in front of the TV at times waiting for videos like “Don’t Take the Girl,” “Strawberry Wine,” and “Dust on the Bottle.” Those were three of my favorite. Why? Well, it was the storytelling, not only the song but the videos as well. Somewhere I feel all that changed and Country became something else, something that I was not a fan of, don’t get me wrong there were local acts and smaller acts that still had that fire but not what we were hearing on the radio and seeing on CMT. A Few years ago all that changed with a new wave of musicians, and we can now add Tyler Childers to that group.
Country Squire is the Country album I have been waiting for. Yes, there have been numerous amazing albums over the past few years but none speak to my soul the way this album does. The first track is the title track and right off the bat he sings about Chillicothe, OH. To our local readers, you will know why that’s cool. That’s a little town about 47 miles from Columbus. There isn’t much there, except a little bar called Steiner’s Speakeasy and a paper mill. In that song he mentions how he is taking in the smells of the paper mill while spitting on the sidewalk. There is a good chance he was playing a show at Steiner’s Speakeasy that night. A few verses later he mentions Circleville. The reason is also because of a small bar; this one is called Tootles. This one I have been to a few times. And much like the music he sings, this bar makes one feel at ease. One time there and you feel welcome. You feel at home and that’s what I like about Tyler’s music. The feeling I receive when I listen to it.
The next track is a familiar one. How many of us as kids rode the bus to school and had that one mean driver, the one that didn’t take any lip from anyone. And there is also the adventures on the school bus, mainly the ones involving a crush. Those were good days. Listening to this track got me thinking about my childhood on the bus and the many adventures I had. If a song can take you back like that, it’s a good song. I have said before that songs truly might be the only form of time travel we have. And Tyler Childers has mastered that craft.
“Creeker” is another track that is easily relatable. There are a few lines that stick out here. One goes, “In a small corner bar he sits there a-drinkin,’ lost as a ball in a field full of corn. Further away than he ever imagined, that he’d end up from the place he was born.” This is a feeling we all have at times when we leave home, especially if we far from home. I know this is something I feel often myself here in Ohio. And I really like the words he chose, “lost as a ball in a field full of corn.” That is truly how it feels at times.
Another standout track is first single, “House Fire.” This is one of those songs that when I first heard it, I knew I was going to enjoy the album, and turns out I was correct. This is one of those songs that is a perfect first single. It set the tone for what was to come. It also has a great fun video to go along with it.
Another standout track is “Matthew.” This is the last track on the album, and it has the classic country feel I grew up with and love. This is storytelling at its best. It’s about living a good, simple life. Something I have always aspired to do, something I picked up years ago from country music, and all these years later I am still trying to find that life.
Overall this album is great. There isn’t a song on it worth skipping. If country music is your thing, then I know you already have been listening to this album, and if it isn’t then I hope I have given you a few reasons to give this record a chance. Records like this are why I have Garth Brooks next to Basement, Eric Church next to Capstan, and Tim McGraw next to Make Do and Mend in my CD binder. I guess I can put Tyler Childers next to Childish Gambino.