PS Picks: Tyler Childers and Music That Reminds You of Home - Pacific Standard

PS Picks: Tyler Childers and Music That Reminds You of Home

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.
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Tyler Childers performs onstage during 2018 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Field on April 28th, 2018, in Indio, California.

Tyler Childers performs onstage during 2018 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Field on April 28th, 2018, in Indio, California.

This PS Pick originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of PSmag.com.

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Hanging Out in Purgatory: Tyler Childers, whose album Purgatory has been on heavy rotation on my Spotify for weeks, is from Kentucky. Many of his songs are steeped in the people and places of his home. As such, there are scenes of lapsed Christianity, of coal mining, and of moonshine.

I have never been to Kentucky (I'm from a small town 570-some miles east, in Pennsylvania), but I find myself able to relate. I suspect Childers will remind a good many people of where they grew up, regardless of geography. That's because his songs deal in simple truths, diving into the tiny interactions and observations that define our days. In that way, Pennsylvania becomes Kentucky, and—in a similar transference—the listener comes to inhabit Childers' characters. In my case, substitute Yuengling for moonshine.

His love song "Feathered Indians" opens with a story, delivered in a scratchy yelp, that's at once sheepish and suggestive:

Well my buckle makes impressions
On the inside of her thigh.
There are little feathered Indians
Where we tussled through the night.

It's the sort of admission—their sleepover was apparently of the "clothes on" variety, hence the buckle-on-skin indentation—that's eschewed by many artists for soppier and sexier—and less complicated—narratives. It's also one we can all, in one form or another, relate to. Love, particularly of the sort Childers sings about here, isn't just sensual nights; it's also awkward mornings.

This PS Pick originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of PSmag.com.

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