Artist - Tyler Childers 3

Tyler Childers Albums - Ranked

February 21, 2024 12:03 pm GMT
Last Edited February 22, 2024 10:41 am GMT

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Tyler Childers has revolutionized country music in a way few artists have managed in the past decade.

The red-headed guitar picker from the hills and hollers of eastern Kentucky snuck his way into popular consciousness with songs that struck the soul in a way that commercial country music could only dream of doing at the time of his arrival.

From his early bluegrass/folk style to his newer artistic pursuits inspired by gospel and Elvis, Childers has never let anyone place him in a box or pigeonhole his style. With a writing manner akin to that of a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Childers can delicately depict stories of hardship, affection and spirituality.

Across seven albums, Childers has welcomed us into his wondrous world. But which of his records runs most true?

Here, Holler ranks Tyler Childers' studio albums in order from seven to one.


Long Violent History

During the COVID-19 pandemic, some folks lost weight, some hoarded toilet paper, while certain people, such as Tyler Childers, toyed around with the violin. Long Violent History is a collection of fiddle tunes that Tyler turned loose during the lockdown period.

The record's highlight is the title track (the only one where his vocal appears). The song was a timely release that called for empathy in race relations in the United States following the death of George Floyd. There was some backlash against Childers for expressing socially liberal views, exacerbated by the tangible political tension in the US at the time. While the track was introspective, it was a bold, courageous statement from an artist with a seemingly majority conservative following.

Nevertheless, the album was disappointing, the nine tracks lacking the remarkable songwriting he had exhibited so confidently on projects up to this point.

Hickman Holler | 2022

Can I Take My Hounds To Heaven?

After three years of social distancing and political turmoil, Tyler returned in 2022 with a three-act, 24-track revival. While there was a lot of hype surrounding Childers' return at this time, there was perhaps a little too much.

The album represented a spiritual awakening for Tyler, who had recently converted to a sober lifestyle. While recording eight gospel-inspired tracks in three different styles was another very artistically bold move, they didn't possess the same energy or allure as the rugged, raw style Tyler had become notorious for. While Childers cleaned his life up and became a more honourable man, the project offered a drastically different sound that was difficult to adjust to.

Songs like 'Way of the Triune God' and the title track were immediate standouts in Childers' collection, evidence that no matter how his sound changes, there will always be quality pieces within his work.

Nevertheless, Can I Take My Hounds To Heaven? was a frustrating listen after such a long build-up, and only a few people know what he was thinking regarding the (anything but) Joyful Noise segment of the album.

RCA | 2023

Rustin' In The Rain

Childers' most recent project, Rustin' In The Rain consisted of a mix of Elvis-inspired songs slightly reminiscent of his earlier music - the consistent chirping of piano keys littered throughout subtly transporting listeners back to a simpler time.

While the album pays homage to The King, it also gives a nod to influences past and present. Childers pays tribute to the legendary Kris Kristofferson with a cover of 'Help Me Make It Through the Night', all while capping off the record with a rendition of S.G. Goodman's 'Space and Time', possibly one the most impressive vocal performances in his catalogue.

The unquestionable highlight of the release, though, is 'In Your Love', once again proving Childers is a master at crafting love songs that can pluck at the heartstrings with a single verse.

RCA | 2019

Country Squire

Childers had a challenging task on his hands following up two of the most beloved releases of the 2010s in Purgatory and Live on Red Barn Radio I & II. With Country Squire, it's safe to say he rose to the occasion.

Retaining Sturgill Simpson as producer, Childers built a home for some of the most successful songs he has ever released. 'All Your'n' has been belted out by thousands of drunken romantics at every concert Tyler has played since its release.

There is also a hopeful yearning for better days on tracks like 'Creeker' and 'Peace of Mind' that resonated with the downtrodden and forgotten, songs that are seamlessly balanced by the raunchy humor of 'Ever Lovin Hand' and 'Bus Route'. It is all tied together by the psychedelic yet traditional sounds that'll be evident to anyone familiar with Simpson's work.

When discussing Childers' catalog, there is often a differentiation between the "Old Tyler" and the "New Tyler". Country Squire is the last chapter in the book of Old Tyler, retaining the identity of his previous work while adding a new flavor through creative production.

Hickman Holler | 2011

Bottles and Bibles

In 2011, the world was graced with the first album from a then-unknown 20-year-old East Kentucky boy. The gritty and brazen Bottles and Bibles is often overlooked when discussions arise surrounding Tyler's best work.

To think that Childers had written songs like 'Hard Times' and 'The Harvest' before he could buy a beer solidifies him as a generational talent in songwriting. The songs illuminated some of the darkest depths of despair one can experience on this side of hell.

Tyler wrangled the overwhelming concept of pain and translated it into 45 minutes of raw country music. Bottles and Bibles embodies the theory that making songs about pain feels authentic and genuine, hitting the soul in a way very few albums have managed to do in the 21st century.

Hickman Holler | 2018

Live on Red Barn Radio I & II

The only live record in Tyler's catalog, the eight songs that make up Live on Red Barn Radio I & II will surely go down as some of the most influential country songs of the time.

A compilation of songs performed on the famed Red Barn Radio show in Lexington, KY, the session has inspired countless artists in recent years, including Zach Bryan, Wyatt Flores and Dylan Gossett. 'Shake the Frost' and 'Follow You to Virgie' alone are carefully crafted masterpieces that strike emotion into the soul of even the most hardened of men. At the same time, Childers still manages to retain his rugged rebel edge by grinding out fan favourites 'Charleston Girl' and 'Whitehouse Road'.

Childers' ability to dance between themes of affection and affliction forms the foundation of his identity as a true "outlaw" country artist.

Thirty Tigers | 2017


Like the scruffy frontiersman his image portrayed at the time, Childers fearlessly explored a new landscape of country music with the release of Purgatory in 2017. Bringing a creative blend of bluegrass, folk and country to the table, Tyler crafted an original sound that significantly altered the genre's direction for years to come.

With the tracks 'I Swear (To God)', 'Banded Clovis' and 'Whitehouse Road', Tyler fully embraced the outlaw identity, presenting stories of drug use and murder amongst fiddle licks and pedal steel. 'Feathered Indians' and 'Lady May', meanwhile, remain two of Childers' most romantic and played tunes in his catalog. They are all amplified by Tyler's raw and vulnerable writing, with Sturgill Simpson cautiously adding flawless instrumentals to each track to compliment the subject matter.

Purgatory is an example of a generational talent in his artistic prime, collaborating with one of the greatest country music visionaries of our time. It remains one of, if not the, most significant country music albums of the decade.

For more on Tyler Childers, see below:

Written by Kyle Amaral
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