Song Review – Elle King Covers Tyler Childers’ “Jersey Giant”

photos: Kyle Coroneos/ Pooneh Ghana

It’s really hard to know what exactly to make of Elle King. Even before she was country, people we’re saying she was country, or should be country. She’s collaborated with country artists like Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley previously, and cut songs that sure sounded more country than not along with others that are more blues, soul, and rock. Now Elle King has made it country music official, announcing she will be releasing a country album called Come Get Your Wife on January 27th, 2023 via RCA/Sony.

The song that Elle King is really pushing as her debut country single at the moment is the buzzwordy and ripe for radio “Try Jesus.” But it was recently announced she would be one of the openers on the upcoming Tyler Childers “Send in the Hounds Tour,” and as part of that announcement, King has released a cover version of Tyler’s unreleased song “Jersey Giant” with Tyler’s blessing. Sufficed to say, this thing is pretty great.

Written by Tyler Childers some 10 years ago, and cherished to the point of being worn out via video renditions by many dedicated Childers fans, “Jersey Giant” is a unique composition for Childers since it features a bridge within the verse/chorus structure. Some may see it as sacrilege that anyone but Childers recorded this song in the studio first, but Elle King does it justice by connecting with the Appalachia folk/bluegrass lineage native to Tyler Childers songs.

Besides, since Childers will never record a studio version of the song, someone should. According to Tyler, he was tired of the song shortly after he wrote it. Since it references a woman that is not his sweet Lady May, and also mentions drinking in an era where he’s now sworn to sobriety, it just may not fit as something Childers wants to sing about at the moment.

There is a whole slew of unreleased Tyler Childers songs out there. He seemingly wrote two songs for his recent album Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven? in “Percheron Mules” and “Luke Chapter 2 Verses 8-10,” and left them off in lieu of four cover songs/traditionals on what’s basically a 8-song album, not to mention fan favorites like “Messed Up Kid” and “Nose to the Grindstone” still don’t have studio versions. Elle King was smart to pounce on “Jersey Giant.”

If we’re being honest, King is about as wild-assed and unpredictable as they come. On the CMA Awards earlier this week, she was playing a piano with her feet, and sticking her tongue out at the camera with “The Killer” emblazoned across her ass while tributing Jerry Lee Lewis. She’s a lot, let’s just say. Uninhibited.

But the genius of Elle King’s version of “Jersey Giant” is the reservation she displays in her performance. It doesn’t exactly show off what Elle King is capable of vocally, but she takes an excellent song and does it in a style reverent to the Tyler Childers universe to ingratiate herself to the independent side of country fans before she heads out on tour in front of them.

Good song.


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