Album reviews are usually just vaulted comparisons and the really good ones avoid that trap. There are good reasons for saying “sounds like…” in a review and no tricks will be pulled here because the best way to represent what this album sounds like is to bring up former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell.
While Isbell’s post-trucker fame exceeds his time with the band, this record is reminiscent of early Isbell back when he drank, had that distinct heavy drawl and told stories of The South. Tyler Childers is a great songwriter in his own right but definitely follows this template. This collection of a couple live, in-studio radio performances possesses all those things and is all the better for it. When he blasts his way into “Deadman’s Curve” with the lyric “You can go to hell my dear…” you know he isn’t pulling punches. His vivid imagery and bullseye metaphors serve him well. The driving “Whitehouse Road” is an obvious favorite here with the great description of “rock gut whiskey” and his spirited delivery. He also hits his target on softer songs too like on “Rock Salt and Nails” that will make you think of Jason Isbell’s great opus “T.V.A.” with it’s meandering storytelling. Childers has a way to spin lyrics off his tongue that makes them memorable and just sound right.
Tyler Childers set the tone for his career when his album “Purgatory” broke through in 2017 but this album (recorded before “Purgatory”) may tell more about who he is. As long as he has a mic and and an acoustic guitar you can tell Childers will always be worth listening to.
Key tracks: “Deadman’s Curve” “White House Road” “Rock Salt and Nails”