Tyler Childers’ Breakthrough Record ‘Purgatory’ is Now a Certified GOLD Record
On November 30th of 2020, Tyler Childers did something that independent country artists outside of the mainstream just do not do, and that is have a record go gold. Childers breakthrough album ‘Purgatory’ has just surpassed 500,000 record sales three years after its release. This was done just five weeks after his producers, Sturgill Simpson and David Ferguson, had his critically acclaimed record ‘Metamodern Sounds in Country Music’ go gold as well. Due to Childers' landmark achievement, I will gladly revisit one of the finest albums of the decade song by song. Here is ‘Purgatory’:
I Swear (To God)
First song on the album and right off the bat you know you’re about to dig into some good ole country gold. The song starts with the slow sawing of the fiddle from Professor Jessie Wells, then the funky little bass line outta Craig Burletic. Oh yeah, we got us something good here. Childers begins to sing about having a few too many drinks, sniffing a little white powder, hittin’ the ol’ antler pipe, and inevitably chucking knucks with a fellow bar patron. He wakes up the next morning with a pounding headache around noon, but that won’t stop his addictive tendencies and rambling ways.
The biggest song off the album. Who would’ve thought a country song about dry humping could sell over a million units. I don’t even think Tyler could’ve imagined how big this song has become. A beautiful song that’s real easy on the ears and heavy on the heart.
This is that sad ol’ country pain song every great country album needs. Heavy on the pedal steel, with a whining fiddle as Childers tells a story of coping with haunting memories of lost love.
Here’s a well-written song that sometimes gets lost in the middle of this outstanding album. Just a real cool song about a redneck interpretation of reincarnation and the interconnectedness of the universe and not about “born again” in the Christian sense like most folks would assume by the title.
This is the song for the fellas who are a little rough around the edges and can’t avoid their rough and rowdy ways. Childers shares what life’s like as a stark ravin’ hill jack from the hills of eastern Kentucky, sniffing rails and pounding the piss. “It’s a damn good feeling to run these roads”.
Banded and Clovis
A great murder ballad about Childers killing his buddy Jessie for a Clovis. For those who don’t know, a Clovis is a type of arrowhead. Banded is referring to bands that go across the arrowhead. Basically, a Clovis point is one of the most valuable points you can find, and it being banded just adds to the value. It’s a pretty damn rare find.
The title track song ‘Purgatory’ strips back to Childers Kentucky bluegrass roots. Upbeat tempo and wicked instrumental picking and sawing. Tyler lists out all his vices in this tune: drinking, fucking, snorting and smoking. He’s on a straightened arrow to an eternity of Hell until he meets a cute little girl that teaches him about the Catholic Dogma and an alternative destination for Childers' Soul - Purgatory.
Honky Tonk Flame
This is one of my favorite songs off this album, and I really don’t have a whole lot to say about it. Childers is explaining the grind. Burning the candle at both ends and paying his dues trying to make it as a musician.
Incredible song. In production, you can totally tell Sturgill Simpson had his hands all over this one. A country song about transcendental meditation.
Side note about this song: Listening to this for the first few times a few years ago, I thought when he said, “A little haggard”, he meant the man saw Childers as a young Merle Haggard and NOT the definition of haggard being exhausted and unwell. I’m an idiot, and if you’ve read this far into this blog you should know that by now.
A beautiful, slow, tender, acoustic love song written for his now wife Senora May. Feathered Indians is a song to describe the feeling of falling in love, but Lady May is for showing how deep your love is for someone. There is no better song to close out this masterpiece of an album.
Here is Beth and Rip from hit TV series 'Yellowstone' dancing to 'Lady May'