Tyler Childers: Purgatory (Hickman Holler Records)

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
OK, if you missed the boat on Margo Price, Chris Stapleton, Sturgil Simpson, and Cody Jinks, you still have a chance. Tyler Childers will be the next big thing and it is well deserved. Tyler has been around a while, but people are finally starting to realize that he’s out there. He’s been active in the music biz since 2010 so he is far from an overnight sensation. What he is-is the real deal. Playing traditional country music but putting his own twist on it. This IS what the people need.

It sure as hell is what I need. This sounds so fresh and new, I cannot get enough of it. Tyler has a perfect voice for music, period. He is a little bit higher than mid range which is where the sweet spot is. He has a certain signature in his singing that makes it unique. His voice will not be confused with anyone else’s. 
No song screams outlaw country on Purgatory better than Whitehouse Road (Track 5). This is a song about running contraband, whatever your flavor. Be it moonshine, heroin, crystal, coke it doesn’t matter. It’s really a very clever political song. What it screams to me is that nothing has really changed. The product may have changed, but people will peddle whatever they need to in order to get by. In other words, things are exactly the same, if not worse, for the working class, blue collar folks. Those are my takeaways from this song. 
Another song that is outlaw all the way is Purgatory (Track 7). This is a confessional song that seems to take the piss out of religion a little bit. Almost thumbing his nose a bit at the notion that just praying will get you into heaven, while actions speak louder than words. Tyler is realizing that he is too bad for heaven but not bad enough to go to Hades. So, hang out in the middle. Purgatory is the perfect place! A win win. Take a gander at those lyrics:
Will you pray for me
When the roots of the oak
And my ribcage are braidin’
If I can think
Lord knows that I will fondly pray for you
High on the hill where the fox horns blow
And down in the grave where they lay me low
Catholic girl, pray for me
You’re my only hope for Heaven

When I’s a boy
I’d drink and love and smoke and snort my fill
But all the while
I kept in mind the Lord’s redeeming grace
High on the hill where the fox horns blow
And down in the city where the heathens go
Catholic girl, pray for me
You’re my only hope for Heaven

Do you reckon he lets Free Will
Boys mope around in purgatory  

Probably the most beautiful song on this entire album is Tattoos (Track 3). This song gives me the shivers down to my core. It is that raw and cuts through bone it is so honest. This is a great song to listen to if you need a good cry. The sad vocals and the fiddle will evoke emotion from the most stoic of individuals. No one will be able to escape this emotional powder keg. 
This is not just one of the best of ’17, but maybe best of the decade. You will understand as soon as you hear it. It transcends generations and bridges gaps from the 1970s to the present. It’s classic and timely. A very powerful combination. 
Listen to Purgatory
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  1. First of all love the site, mixture of rock and country with a twang! Thats what im all about, so glad to find it! Anyway, also glad you reviewed this Kentucky boys’ album. It was produced by Sturgill Simpson and he done a fabulous job. Its much deserving and does have that timeless feel. Easily the years best effort, it really does have something for everybody on it!

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