Wrecking Ball: Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven? – Tyler Childers

Hugh Griggs, Copy

Tyler Childers’s previous albums, “Country Squire,” “Live on Red Barn Radio” and “Purgatory” helped bring country music out of the dark ages. For the past forty years, country music has fallen into shambles. Overly patriotic, fiddle-filled garbage fills radio stations. So-called “radio country” can be distilled down to “trucks, beer and America,’’ but Tyler Childers’s music was genuine, artfully written, and captured his personality. Songs like “Whitehouse Road,” “Deadman’s Curve” and “Charleston Girl” expressed sadness, exhaustion, heartbreak and a genuine picture of Appalachia––all too rare in today’s country music. But on September 30, 2022, Tyler Childers burned that all to the ground. 

His album “Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven” is a three-part series of the same eight songs in three versions. Presented as a gospel album, each song has a Hallelujah version, the Jubilee version and the Joyful Noise version, whatever “joyful noise” means. It would be tolerable if the songs were good. But they are not. Every song is made of poorly written rhyme schemes moving at a glacially slow pace. Songs like “Old Country Church” and “Hallelujah” are dull displays of religiosity, much like the radio country Childers once opposed. 

Each track is either a slower and overproduced rendition of one of Childers old songs, like “Purgatory, or songs he has been performing for a while, such as “Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven.” Whether it is a horn section, organ or choir, every song is overproduced. We should throw this album into the dustbin of slow, pretentious crap. “Can I Take My Hounds to Heaven” is a threat to the renaissance of country music that Tyler Childers has helped create in the past decade. Has someone thought about making an album with fast songs?