The latest album from Tyler Childers will arrive on on September 8th via Hickman Holler Records, distributed by RCA. Called Rustin’ In The Rain, it was recorded in the home studio of Tyler’s pedal steel player and guitarist James Barker above his garage. The new album was produced by Tyler and his backing band The Food Stamps, who along with Barker includes bassist Craig Burletic, drummer Rod Elkins, Chase Lewis on keys, CJ Cain on acoustic guitar, and fiddle/guitarist “The Professor” Jesse Wells.
Childers says of the album via press release, “This is a collection of songs I playfully pieced together as if I was pitching a group of songs to Elvis. Some covers, one co-write, and some I even wrote in my best (terrible) Elvis impersonation, as I worked around the farm and kicked around the house. I hope you enjoy listening to this album as much as I enjoyed creating it. Thank you. Thank you very much.”
Strangely, no track list accompanies the album or the pre-order, which might render some reluctant, especially after a few felt let down by the packaging of Tyler’s last album, Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven. What we do know is that Rustin’ In The Rain only includes seven tracks.
The songs we can confirm to be on the album at this point are “Rustin’ in the Rain,” which is a song Childers has been performing in concert for a while, the Christmas song “Luke Chapter Two, Verse 8-10” that some expected to be on Tyler’s last album with its religious theme, as well as the song “In Your Love,” which accompanies the album announcement (listen/watch below).
Tyler says that the album is mostly love songs, with the deeper tie-in being the mules that make numerous appearances in the lyrics. This might also mean that the song “Percheron Mules” that Childers has performed live on many occasions will be on the album, but Saving Country Music hasn’t been unable to confirm that as of yet. Unheard song “Barn Burner” is another track confirmed to be on Rustin’ In The Rain.
The release of the lead song “In Your Love” is also accompanied by a cinematic, big production video written and creatively directed by Silas House, who is a New York Times bestselling author and current Poet Laureate of Kentucky, as well as a long-time friend and collaborator of Childers. The video was directed by Bryan Schlam and stars actors Colton Haynes and James Scully as two coal miners from the 1950 who fall in love.
Though set in the ’50s, Childers says he wanted a “’90s vibe” for the video. Tyler also says that growing up with a gay cousin that was like a brother to him inspired the gay love story that is the centerpiece of the video. When asked by Ann Powers of NPR about the risk/reward of making political statements through the “In Your Love” video, Tyler Childers responded,
“I think that people are doing it. Margo Price is very vocal and outspoken in her music. Steve Earle’s been that way for years. There is risk in it, though. The good old boys and people that I run into—to them, Steve established himself with these songs, and [now] they’re just like, “Ah Steve, he’s just barkin’.” Is it possible to be taken seriously? I do think so, if you’re coming from a place that’s less preachy and more real. That’s what I hoped to accomplish with this video.”
The question some may have is just how necessary the storyline of the “In Your Love” video is in a world where gay marriage is legal and was recently affirmed in the United States Congress with bipartisan support. Often the parental attitude of certain artists and their allies in media in believing simple exposure to certain subjects is enough to reshape hearts and minds ultimately alienates the very audience meant to be reached, or simply comes across as signaling to constituencies.
At the same time, the release of the “In Your Love” video will likely stir up the few, but outspoken homophobic elements within the country music community, exposing the continued need for more acceptance of LGBT individuals in country music and beyond.
Later in the NPR interview, Childers also doubled down on his reasoning for not moving to Nashville, and the importance of that decision in the perspective of his songwriting.
“Nashville is an extremely necessary town; everybody’s got to meet somewhere, and this is a heck of a meeting place. But there’s this hard disconnect. The writers didn’t necessarily grow up in a rural setting, but the nostalgia for that way of life resonates with them in some way. So they’re working within these stereotypes of this nostalgia that they might not even have any reference point to understand.”
Since this album is from Tyler Childers, it immediately rockets up the depth chart for anticipated 2023 releases. Though Childers’ Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven quickly disappeared from the Billboard Country Albums chart after its release despite a 24-song track list, his 2017 album Purgatory remains a perennial title in the Top 30 as Childers enjoys headliner status at country festivals, and arena-level appeal on tour.
No track list is currently available.