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Album Review: Tyler Childers – Purgatory

Artist: Tyler Childers

Album: Purgatory

Year: 2017

Label: Hickman Holler Records

Genre: Bluegrass, Americana

I stumbled across this week’s album a few months ago, and I knew right away that it was something Lula needed to showcase. I’ve been sitting on it all this time trying to flesh out how to explain what it is that makes this album so unique. With each listen, I keep finding something else to appreciate; if not the phenomenal production, the lyrics and the images beautifully painted in the stories.

Twenty six year old Kentucky native, Tyler Childers released his second studio album “Purgatory” back in August of last year, and it’s really something else. Born to a coal industry working father and a nurse, Tyler found his voice singing in the church choir. He picked up a guitar and began writing and playing songs at the age of thirteen. Tyler began touring at nineteen and recorded his debut album a year later back in 2011. He has also released two EPs recorded at Red Barn Radio in Lexington, Kentucky.

You can certainly hear Sturgill Simpson’s influence on the album. Sturgill also lends his vocals as well as his pickin’ fingers to numerous tracks on the album. Tyler doesn’t shy away from raw, complicated, and symbolic lyrics, and also gives nod to the very roots of country music with a very western, gritty, mountain sound.

Tyler manages to touch on every topic from substance abuse, love, murder, heartbreak, heartache, religion, and enlightenment on this album. He opens the album with a very relatable morning after chug. He’s juxtaposed his complicated feelings for a religious woman with the hardships, beauty, and affliction of “Feathered Indians.” The love quickly goes south in “Tattoos,” then soon he’s “Born Again.” “Whitehouse Road” tells of the substance abuse in Appalachia, and “Banded Clovis” is the murder ballad showcasing the lengths a high, troubled soul can take. The title track “Purgatory” is delightfully bluegrass, with very real to most everyone’s feelings on life. “Universal Sound” reminds one to focus on the breathing and the universal sound when life gets heavy.

I would highly recommend this album to anyone and everyone out there looking for an album that brings to life the struggles and hardships we all face as flawed beings. I can promise that there’s a song on this album for you. “Purgatory” is best served with your poison of choice, whether it be white lines or moonshine… or for the tamer few of us, a cup of tea.

Favorite songs: I Swear (To God), Feathered Indians, Banded Clovis, Honky Tonk Flame, Universal Sound

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