Simplicity and Soul: Tyler Childers’ ‘Rustin’ in the Rain’

In the ever-evolving rodeo that is country music, Tyler Childers stands out as a torchbearer of authenticity and tradition. His albums, characterized by a fusion of country, folk, and bluegrass, have garnered well deserved praise, and with each release, he draws a little closer to the heart of his rural roots, as well as retirement. Childers’ latest offering, Rustin’ in the Rain, is a testament to his musical evolution and the art of storytelling through song.

Now, one might wonder why Childers chose to release such a “tiny” album in an era where streaming numbers often dictate success in the music industry. It’s true that more songs on an album often mean more streams, which can translate to more revenue for the artist. However, Childers seems to be a clear believer in quality over quantity. He’s committed to delivering music that resonates deeply with his audience, even if it means fewer songs on each album. Childers revealed in a recent interview with The New York Times that his albums are intentionally getting shorter, forming somewhat of a countdown to his career. Rustin’ in the Rain features just seven songs, and when asked what happens when he gets to one, he simply stated, “I go home.” This home he speaks of isn’t just a place; it’s a return to the mules, his wife, their baby boy, and the serenity of his farm…a return to his own rural story.

The brevity of Rustin’ in the Rain doesn’t diminish its impact. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. With this album, Childers continues to defy the mainstream country’s penchant for pop and hip-hop fusions, championing a genre that pays homage to its roots. The album is a harmonious blend of original compositions and renditions, including the iconic Kris Kristofferson-penned “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and S.G. Goodman’s “Space and Time.” Among the standout tracks on the album is “Rustin’ in the Rain,” a solo write from Childers that showcases his lyrical prowess and emotional depth. In this haunting song, Childers delivers a heartfelt narrative of the pain and confusion that envelops a person when their loved one stops responding to their messages. Interestingly, “Rustin’ in the Rain” is not just about love or Appalachian life; it also carries a touch of Elvis Presley. Childers revealed that the idea of songs he could have pitched to Elvis came to him while he was cleaning his house.. The arrival of a new dog in the family, which he affectionately named his “velvet Elvis,” seemed to trigger this creative twist. Childers hit the time machine when recording this album, imagining himself pitching these tunes to the legendary Elvis Presley.

In a musical era where brevity often takes a backseat to commercial appeal, Tyler Childers’ Rustin’ in the Rain stands as a testament to the enduring power of concise storytelling through song. With just seven tracks, Childers crafts a musical journey that explores love, loss, and the unrelenting tug of his rural roots. In doing so, he continues to inspire a counter-programming movement within country music, reminding us all that there’s forever beauty in simplicity and authenticity.

Cover Photo: Sam Waxman

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