Song Review: Tyler Childers – “House Fire”

The short version: “House Fire” probably does all it needs to do as a lead single, which is to generate interest. Of course, Childers didn’t even really need the song for that.

  • Writer: Tyler Childers
  • Rating: 6/10

The long version: A change in the country music establishment will only come when the artists actually want it.

In 2015, the major headlines sweeping across the industry involved independent artists seeing increased sales and exposure. To make things even better, this was all after someone said, “if you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist.”

It’s hard to tell exactly where the seeds were planted for this modern day revolution, but pointing to Sturgill Simpson isn’t exactly a ludicrous first move. Personal feelings aside, one cannot underestimate the importance and influence of Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, from inspiring Chris Stapleton to make Traveller to opening the floodgates for other artists wanting to do it their own way, this is an album that will make the history books.

But let’s be honest – the chances of Simpson returning to that sound are slim, so people have looked elsewhere for their old-time country fix. Enter Tyler Childers, an artist who exploded with his album, Purgatory, in 2017 with the help of, well … Simpson himself. With Simpson behind the production wheel, Childers looked to pick up where Simpson left off.

Still, it doesn’t mean Childers is a carbon copy of Simpson. Like he said at the Americana Music Awards, Childers is a country artist who cares about making country music. With his recent signing to RCA Records, Childers is doing what few independent country artists actually do – take advantage of the Internet age and use their increased exposure to their advantage. It’s not being a sellout, it’s being smart.

As such, of course attention was going to be high for Childers’s next album, Country Squire, with the lead single, “House Fire” already catching attention as a longtime favorite for hardcore fans.

Now that we have a studio version, I’ll say that “House Fire” is not a great song, but it does what a good lead single should do, which is capture attention. Then again, Childers didn’t exactly need the song to do that anyway.

For as much as I enjoyed A Sailor’s Guide To Earth by Simpson, I’ve found his production work to be lacking for other artists, and yes, that includes Purgatory in that conversation. The mixing on “House Fire” is fairly poor, with everything being so quiet in the mix that you basically need it at full volume to even hear what’s going on.

Lyrically, “House Fire” is, in a nutshell, a sex jam that uses pretty effective imagery to get its point across, and that’s really all there is to say in that department.

The instrumentals are probably the song’s best elements, as while the song begins with light drums, acoustic guitar and banjo, it quickly progresses into a flurry of electric guitar, fiddles, and organ to match the song’s lyrical intensity. The drums get increasingly heavier to strengthen the song’s muscle power.

But the problems all point back to the mixing, as Childers remains the most buried throughout this song. Again, you need this song near max volume just to even hear him, but even Childers himself turns in an underwhelming performance. For a song that mostly revolves around increased intensity, Childers mostly remains at the same comfortable range throughout, never quite matching the song.

But with the spliced, atmospheric production effects that both introduce and help to end this song, it’s safe to say that “House Fire” is just one piece of a larger puzzle. Again, it’s not great, and has some very noticeable flaws to it, but “House Fire” is a fairly enjoyable listen all the same.

(Decent 6/10)

Closing remarks: It’s not bad, but it’ll definitely likely be a weaker track on the album considering there’s
live versions floating around of every upcoming track.

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