As one of country music’s most raw and real artists out there, Tyler Childers continues to change his music and style how he sees fit. Recently at the Under The Big Sky Festival, Childers reinvented an older song of his. “Purgatory,” was featured on the 2017 album of the same name. The song is originally a bluegrass tune with lots of banjo playing, fiddle, hard bassline, and a quick pace. Tyler turned it on its head and made it something new and interesting.
Tyler Childers traded the fast-paced bluegrass instruments with a slow and might I say funky guitar plucking. His bass player, Craig Burletic, kept a familiar fun bassline throughout as he usually does. James Barker brought that funk with the plucking and playing the steel guitar. Meanwhile, Childers moves and sways to the feeling of the song. It is rare to see Childers without a guitar in his hand, but it worked. As he pleaded the refrain “Catholic girl pray for me, you’re my only hope for heaven!” his hands would raise to the microphone and then slam back into his jacket pockets.
The song details a younger Tyler Childers as a heathen protestant growing up in the mountains. He started a relationship with a Catholic girl who told him about purgatory, the middle ground between Heaven and Hell, and that sounds pretty good for a wild heathen not sure if he can be saved. “I know that Hell is just as real as I am surely breathing/Well I’ve heard tale of a middle ground I think will work for me!” What young country troublemaker hasn’t thought of their own salvation before? It’s a crazy good song with a great story.
Tyler Childers Under the Big Sky
When he performs, Tyler Childers puts his heart into the performance. Just one look at his face will show that. Childers makes his face contort and strain to belt out the tunes he sings and twangs. The rendition of “Purgatory” will remind fans of his hit “All Your’n” from his 2019 album Country Squire which has been played at about a million weddings at this point.
The slowed down, methodical playing of “Purgatory” just shows the talent of Tyler Childers and the Food Stamps, his band. They have been together for years now and it shows when you see them live how well they know each other and their strengths on stage. For Childers, who just turned 30 years old this past June, the country music world seems like his for the taking.
Fans were treated to a special release in 2020 from Childers. The Kentucky native released Long Violent History, an album almost entirely made up of fiddle instrumentals. The title song, “Long Violent History,” was a special piece regarding the unrest and violence of 2020 throughout the country. One has to wonder when the next album will come down the line, but who needs new music when he can just reinvent his old songs so well?