Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven?
30 September 2022
Taking the brand new album by Tyler Childers thematically, it’s a journey by, and a loosely metaphoric dissection of, the Christian perception of the Holy Trinity – or God as triune: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. To drive this level residence, Childers has common this undertaking as a three-disc set, every consisting of the identical eight songs however imagined, carried out, and produced in three totally different configurations.
The primary disc, Hallelujah, accommodates the essential tracks; unadorned, uncooked, that includes little fanfare, like a no-nonsense, get-to-the-point father determine. With the second, Jubilee, the identical eight songs are fleshed out with horns, strings, and different accoutrements, representing the youthful era (the son) that builds upon what got here earlier than whereas making it their very own.
Joyful Noise, the ultimate disc, is probably the most radically totally different. Right here, the tracks are nearly unrecognizable save for a indifferent lyric right here and a hook there. Musically, they’re adventurous soundscapes, a type of “discovered footage” method, not in contrast to what Neil Young supplied up with Arc, his half-hour feedback-drenched summation of his 1991 reside album, Weld. You can say Joyful Noise has a ghostly aura round it. Get it?
Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven?‘s thesis assertion comes within the type of the oft-covered J.W. Vaughan hymn, “Previous Nation Church”. Sprung from earlier variations by everybody from Hank Williams and Jerry Lee Lewis to, extra just lately, Brent Cobb, the tune’s lasting energy rests on the nostalgia of rising up in a small rural church. But it could additionally ring a bell with anybody who remembers gathering as a neighborhood to have fun, rejoice, and hope for higher instances.
That theme carries by to the album’s first single, “Angel Band” (which shares its title with the Stanley Brothers bluegrass/gospel normal resurrected on the daybreak of the twenty first century on the soundtrack to the Coen Brothers’ acclaimed, O Brother, The place Artwork Thou, however right here a Childers’ authentic). It’s the ultimate verse the place, reaching again to the final verse of John Prine‘s “Fairly Good” (one other artist with sturdy ties to Kentucky), commonalities between everybody are realized, main them to ponder “why precisely they’ve been fussin’ the entire time””
The title observe salutes the time-worn nation custom (such because the Gatlin Brothers’ “Midnight Choir”) of the earthly good ol’ boy who believes heaven needs to be much less pearly gates and harp-strumming angels, and extra a venue for his needs to be happy. On this case, it’s whether or not or not he’ll be capable to hunt. (On this case, the narrator’s heaven should be the hunted’s hell). On “Method of the Triune God”, Childers strings collectively the tropes of Southern gospel (outdated time shoutin’, go inform it on the mountain, the roll known as up excessive) and sprinkles in some more moderen considerations (don’t want the capsules you are taking or the medicine you’re utilizing) to craft a contemporary high-energy hymn that works. It’s among the best moments right here.
Childers additionally revisits “Purgatory”, reimagined within the spirit of the remainder of Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven? He closes with the comparatively extra soulful and hypnotic “Coronary heart You’ve Been Tendin’”. Two instrumental numbers are additionally included that aren’t far more than rhythm tracks on the Hallelujah set however are embellished and fleshed out on Jubilee and Joyful Noise as a type of dubstep hootenanny.
The set’s thematic bells and whistles at instances overshadow the tracks. Childers will get factors for his ambition, but the gathering threatens to break down underneath the burden of its pretensions. It’s a disgrace as a result of the songs right here rank among the many finest in his profession. As a extra fleshed-out single album, it may have been a lot extra. Nevertheless, with its core being simply eight tracks and two of them fundamental vocal-less rhythm beds, there’s simply not sufficient steak to justify the sizzle.
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