Album Review: Tyler Childers Delivers The Goods With ‘Country Squire’
If you’re a reader of this site, you’re likely aware of Mr. Tyler Childers. Capture Kentucky began shortly before Childers debut ‘Purgatory’ hit the “Outer-Commonwealth”, so we’ve been fortunate to cover Tyler in many different settings, including his Grand Ole Opry debut.
Having said that, it is an incredible honor to be reviewing Childers latest release in ‘Country Squire.’
Before we get started, I want to put you in a very specific mindset. I want you to understand the love that Tyler has for folks like Levon Helm, The Band, The Grateful Dead, Robert Earl Keen, Great Speckled Bird, Larry Cordle, and especially Goose Creek Symphony. Those artists make up the foundation of Tyler.
If you’ve been watching his tours, Miles Miller has been playing a second drum kit at some shows. Much like The Grateful Dead and many jam band greats. He’s even busted out a few covers, like “Long Time To Get Old” by Great Speckled Bird, which you can see below.
With that said, ‘Country Squire’ is a collection of soliloquies and keen observations hammered into music. Using Appalachian vernacular to his advantage, Childers takes us with him through the hills as he sings about topics from his childhood, love, family and even a little self-love.
Of the mission behind the album, Childers comments, “I hope that people in the area that I grew up in find something they can relate to. I hope that I’m doing my people justice and I hope that maybe someone from somewhere else can get a glimpse of the life of a Kentucky boy.”
It seems that Childers and producer Sturgill Simpson both take issue with the label of Americana, and that has fueled their fire to make an undeniable country record. The end result? Let’s take a look and listen.
First up is the title track, “Country Squire.” The story told here is one of love and remodeling. No, really. Tyler sings about his darling bride, Senora May, and his desire to make a pull behind camper new again. Making it their home while huddled up around a fire as they build a cabin and hopefully a family in the woods. Taking a personal story and finding that nugget of truth we all share is quite possibly Childers best skill set. “Country Squire” is a tale that only Childers could tell and he does it brilliantly.
Next is “Bus Route”. I’ll use Tyler’s own words here. “I wrote a song about my bus route. It’s called Bus Route.” While that’s true, it’s a bit more complicated. He tells about young love and growing into a young man that gets a little frisky, all under the watchful eye of Ray Dixon. Ray has the ole death stare and paddle to blister punk kids alive.
This song, with it’s call back chorus will undoubtedly be a crowd favorite. So be prepared to hear a raucous choir of folks repeating back “Bring me in and give me some.” I still can’t believe he sang that on the Opry stage, BUT that’s why we all love him.
“Creeker” kicks off the meat and potatoes of this home cooked meal. Childers delivers a song that I feel will be a staple in his setlist for many years to come.
Childers paints a vivid portrait of a lonely alcoholic from a small town, trapped in the city and it’s hauntingly beautiful. This. THIS! Is real Country music and it is glorious.
“Creeker” is likely the deepest and darkest track on ‘Country Squire,’ and it just feels timeless from the very first notes of the piano. Then once the fiddle hits ya, you’re completely hooked and then he drops such a heavy story on you that you don’t have a clue what hit ya. Get ready to replay this one.
“Creeker” also happens to be my personal favorite track from ‘Country Squire.’
We’ve now arrived at “Gemini.” This track is about life on the road, the internal (and often external) battle to balance life both on and off the road, coupled up with the strong urge to roam being a Gemini.
Childers cadence is as much of a hook as the chorus is. Rapid firing, tongue twisting melodies make this short track carry a heavy right hand.
Get ready to sing his lyrics back to him at Railbird. “Now I’m Lit Up Like A Christmas Tree. Check One, Two. Can Ya’ll Hear Me” Childers also tips his hat to Mr. Robert Earl Keen with the lyric, “The Road Goes On Forever, The Party It Will Tend To Run Forever If You Never Let It End.” Such a fun song!!
“House Fire” was the song that I was impatiently waiting for when I first heard it live. I absolutely love the vibe of this one. It’s a modernized version of what feels like a classic country tune. It also packs a powerful punch just before he sets the hook in ya.
“Y’all said ya wanted real, so here goes.” That’s the introduction Tyler gave at last years Kickin’ It On The Creek to “Ever Lovin’ Hand.” It’s about exactly what you think it is…masturbation.
That will probably cause a few panties to get wadded, hear me out though, this song is a stroke of genius (pun totally intended) and it’s likely my favorite track from a musical standpoint from ‘Country Squire.'”I’ve Got You On My Mind In My Ever Lovin’ Hand,” another lyric that only TimmyTy could give us.
“Peace Of Mind” seems to be the most talked-about track since Childers debuted the album version at a show just before Forecastle. While I thoroughly enjoyed the first version, the story deserved a better chance to be told. The new interpretation allows the sadness within the lyrics to shine.
I will say this, no artist wants to record the same album every time, unless you’re AC/DC or Nickelback apparently. What we’re witnessing is an artist that’s evolving. Listen to ‘Bottles and Bibles,’ then ‘Purgatory, then listen to ‘Country Squire.’
“Peace Of Mind” is brilliant and you will not change my mind. Why? Because in time caterpillars become butterflies and the world is simply a better place because of it. That’s exactly what we’re experiencing.
Next up is a song about love, titled “All Your’n.” Its beauty is the fact that it’s a love song to Senora, but it’s still vague enough that folks will be dancing to it at wedding receptions for a long time. In other words, there’s a rather large chance that this song ends up being timeless as well. You can also find the one and only Laid Back Country Picker in his animated glory in this one. What’s not to love about that?!
“Matthew” is a song written about Childers brother-in-law and it is the only track on ‘Country Squire’ that lends itself closely to bluegrass.
Accompanied by a beautiful fiddle and mandolin, “Matthew” provides the proverbial cherry on top. He tells the story of his brother-in-law working at the Blue Grass Depot protecting rusted missles after helping bring Baghdad (Not the Kentucky Baghdad. Lol) to it’s knees.
The story continues on with his Dad being a logger and raising his kids up right. It’s really a beautiful story.
And that’s how we end it. Childers gives us a simple stripped-down minimalistic tune, which is what got us to this point to begin with and I couldn’t be more happy to take this journey with TimmyTy over and over again.
I do want to add that ‘Country Squire’ (The Album) was seemingly created to be enjoyed best as a vinyl. The songs all flow into each other and since Colonel Tony Moore (The Walking Dead) is involved with the artwork, and after seeing the video for “All Y’ourn,” you can expect a very vivid experience.
UPDATE: The gatefold artwork by Jimbo Valentine.
So there ya have it. Hope you enjoyed our journey, and if so pass the article onto a friend.