Tyler Childers & William Matheny: Live from the Red Room @ Cafe 939, Friday, Oct 20 at 8:00 pm on birnCORE

Tyler Childers sounds like the mountains. He has the musical sensibility of the lonesome, echoing, Eastern Kentucky hillsides, where he grew up, and a voice steeped in the grit of dirt roads. He embodies the stories he tells, from the top of his red head, down to his boots. It’s exhilarating to witness an artist, fully and genuinely living his truth, and doing it so beautifully.

‘The people, landmarks and legendary moments from his childhood home of Lawrence County, Kentucky, populate the 10 songs in his formidable debut, Purgatory, an album that’s simultaneously modern and as ancient as the Appalachian Mountains in which events unfold. The album, co-produced by Grammy Award winners Sturgill Simpson and David Ferguson, is a semi-autobiographical sketch of Childers’ growth from wayward youth to happily married man, told in the tradition of a Southern gothic novel with a classic noir antihero, who may just be irredeemable. Purgatory is a chiaroscuro painting with darkness framing light, in high relief. There’s catharsis and redemption. Sin and temptation. Murder and deceit. Demons and angels. Moonshine and cocaine. All played out on the large, colorful canvas that is Eastern Kentucky.’ ~tylerchildersmusic.com

With a full band behind him, Childers ventures to the edge, where mountain traditions and “mainstream” country music intersect. The result is well worth a listen.

Check out “Whitehouse Road,” a tune from his debut album, Purgatory. It’s rattle-your-bones-good! https://youtu.be/WtVrDud1gZM

The best storytellers often aren’t the ones who have had the wildest experiences; they’re the ones who have experienced things we all have, and can articulate them in a way we haven’t yet figured out ourselves. They give us a new vocabulary for talking about ourselves and our world. That’s the gift William Matheny presents to us.

Matheny, a West Virginia native and longtime keys player for Athens, Ohio, indie heroes Southeast Engine, has broken out on his own with Strange Constellations, his debut 11-song solo collection out February 24, 2017, which might more than anything provoke the question: Why not sooner?

William Matheny would best be classed as a songwriter’s songwriter–the kind of composer who gets the melody just right every time, and the kind of lyricist whose turns of phrase bring an involuntary grin. Once you’ve heard his deft songcraft, you might feel cheated that he withheld it so long.