Tyler Childers Proves Rusty in Rustin’ in the Rain

By Audrey Elwood, Guest Writer 

Tyler Childers’ “In Your Love” has been one of the standout country ballads of the year, especially after the controversial music video following the love story of two gay men. Despite the uproar from the country world, the song has already cemented itself as a fan favorite in Childers’ discography. 

“In Your Love” also serves as the main single from the artist’s sixth studio album, Rustin’ in the Rain, which was released last Friday. This album proves that there’s much more than just “In Your Love” to be excited about. We hear a new sound from Childers on Rustin’ in the Rain, but we have to ask the question: Is it good? 

Overall, the sound of the album is distinctly Elvis with a mix of good ol’ country. Title track “Rustin’ in the Rain” and “Percheron Mules” are Presley-esque tracks with the classic marquee bluegrass/folk twang we often get from Tyler. 

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Childers recognized this in some pre-release materials: “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,” he wrote.  

The gospel influence from Tyler’s previous album, Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven, shows up heavily in some of these tracks. “Luke 2:8-10” masterfully retains the stripped-back feeling of Childers’ vocals while adding to the production value. The song, as the title suggests, has heavy religious undertones. 

A Christmas song smack in the middle of a non-Christmas album is always a choice, but Childers plays it off well. While the song is about the birth of Jesus, it does not fall into the trap of being explicitly Christmas with instrumentals that you cannot listen to  outside of December. 

While Childers’ past work plays a huge part in these songs, this is a distinct album from his previous works that branches away from the stripped tracks Childers is known for.

The two covers in the album are where we get a taste of the old Childers. My favorite out of the two is “Space and Time,” originally sung by S.G. Goodman. Within the ballad, we hear the raw vocals shine through with a strong vibrato that accentuates the lyrics and message. 

“Help Me Make it Through the Night,” originally sung by Kris Kristofferson, is another ballad, but this time it’s majorly slowed down from the original. While the original sounds like someone falling in love, Childers’ version sounds like someone who is longing for a past lover. The piano in the background really sets the stage for this feeling and adds depth to the song. I believe this is one of the best stylistic choices on the album, adding richness to the vocals and letting the lyrics really linger. 

Though, it is disappointing that a quarter of the album is covers, it makes the album feel unfinished and rushed. 

The lyricism in the album is lacking, to say the least. The most underwhelming song on the album is the ballad “Phone Calls and Emails.” Not only is the song poorly paced, but the lyrics are monotonous. The chorus is bland, and the best lyrics in the song are “We used to talk daily / You’d call to check in / I’d check in on you, I considered us friends / Now I’m second-guessing.” 

Along with the loss of the lyricism, we also lost length on the album. Rustin’ in the Rain is Childers’ shortest album, clocking in at a meager 28 minutes. The album is overall unremarkable. Rustin’ in the Rain is a good album, but it does not live up to the former albums Childers has put out.