The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Review | ‘Rustin’ In The Rain’ is an underwhelming country album shrouded in controversy

Photo courtesy of Genius
Cover of “Rustin’ In The Rain” by Tyler Childers

Neo-traditional country artist Tyler Childers released his sixth studio album, “Rustin’ In The Rain,” on Sept. 8.

Childers has gained notoriety in recent years for his Appalachian storytelling and bluegrass-inspired acoustic tracks. The indie country artist is known for his traditional musical style and minimal sound production, gaining traction on TikTok through songs such as “All Your’n” and “Shake the Frost.”

“Rustin’ In The Rain” was first teased on July 27 with “In Your Love,” a single that polarized country fans due to its accompanying music video. The video, which was co-created by music journalist Silas House, depicted a love story between two male coal miners. 

In the midst of controversy surrounding “In Your Love,” conservative members of Childers’ audience led a social media campaign boycotting the upcoming album.

“Rustin’ In The Rain” is an eclectic 28-minute drive down a dirt road in rural America. Beginning with the energetic title track, the album pulls the listener into a thematically diverse and unencumbered auditory space.  The title track is a bouncy, twangy roof-raiser with an easily-square-danced beat and catchy lyrics. In true Childers fashion, the song’s sassy guitar line calls to mind an entirely different generation of country artists, defying the overwhelmingly pop-influenced tide that has defined the genre for at least a decade.

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    The album then slows and dampens its mood, introducing several gentle ballads laced with tacit melancholy. “Phone Calls and Emails,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “Luke 2:8-10,” “In Your Love” and “Space and Time” establish the album’s overall tone. 

    “Space and Time” is an unorthodox inclusion for Childers. A cover originally written and performed by gay Kentuckian folk-rock artist S.G. Goodman, the track is marked by bluegrass influence paired with indie rock cadence and lyricism. “Phone Calls and Emails” was the least distinctive song on the album, teetering out of the country genre with a ballad-y piano backing track. Childers’ sultry, raspy vocal timbre saves the track in some regards, but “Phone Calls and Emails” is a departure from many of the idiosyncrasies that draw listeners to Childers over mainstream country artists.

    “Percheron Mules,” the second upbeat track on the album, is a stronghold on Childers’ set lists, appearing at many of the artist’s concerts over the years, but failing to be included on any prior releases. With a campy, plunky and honky-tonk sound, “Percheron Mules” is a seasoned and road-tested song with a distinctive role in the album. Tucked gently between the desperate pleas of “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and the steadfast, love-laced proclamations of “In Your Love,” this working-class ode to agricultural mules is a breath of fresh, whiskey-scented air.

    Ultimately, in the context of the storylines masterfully woven into Childers’ previous albums such as “Purgatory” and “Country Squire,” “Rustin’ in the Rain” quickly fades into obscurity. 

    With quick standout songs such as “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “Percheron Mules” and the title track, “Rustin’ In The Rain” is not a complete loss. However, for listeners accustomed to Childers’ existing sonic brand, “Rustin’ In The Rain” will not be easily integrated into the listening rotation.


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    About the Contributor
    Lisa Chasanov, Managing Editor for Reporting
    Howdy! My name is Lisa, my game is delivering quality news to your phone screen, coffee table and recycling bin. Since fall 2022, I have had the honor of writing, editing and often-unsuccessfully pitching content for The Daily Illini. During my time at the 152-year-old news source, I have served as a reporter at our news desk, summer editor and assistant news editor. Most recently, after a rewarding year of bringing you hard-hitting stories such as “Uncut: Dissecting Circumcision” and “‘Surf’s Up’ could be the film of the summer,” I have taken over as managing editor for reporting. In my free time, you can find me performing open heart surgery in dark alleys, communicating telepathically with small woodland creatures and engaging in otherwise dubious activities. If you would like to summon me for any reason, you can find me at [email protected]. Good Yard. Stay tuned for more.