The current king of alt-country Tyler Childers tipped his crown to the original King, Elvis Presley, on his latest album, Rustin’ In The Rain. Out today, the seven-song release harvests a stylistic crossbreeding of Childers’ latest influences.

Arriving in the shadow of last year’s ambitious three-part Can I Take My Hounds To Heaven?Rustin’ In The Rain feels exceptionally short. Clocking in at just over 28 minutes, the collection falls somewhere in the awkward middle ground between EP and LP. But that must be one of the perks of running your own record label, Hickman Holler Records, is that you can make your albums as long or as short as you want.

Back in July when Childers announced the album with the cultural powderkeg of a video for “In Your Love“, he sat for a rare interview with NPR. The reclusive singer-songwriter, who last year snapped a two-year quiet spell with the gospel-infused Hounds, confirmed that a technologically-induced Elvis obsession played a large part in the new album.

“I don’t know if it was the algorithm … or the Elvis movie coming out, but I just became inundated with Elvis stuff [on my streaming feeds],” Childers said. “I started thinking a lot about Elvis and I was like, I’m going to try to collect some songs that I’d written, and some covers that I would want to pitch to Elvis. So the songs that I wrote, I was writing like an Elvis impersonation.”

Tyler Childers – “In Your Love” [Official Video]

That Elvis inspiration assuredly runs through Rustin’ In The Rain, with Tyler feeling blue and lonesome on the decidedly modern kind of tribute on “Phone Calls and Emails”. However, the most natural implementation of this rockabilly foray into Childers’ wider style is on album standout “Percheron Mules”. The toe-tapping country-rock crossover is mixed with call-and-response background vocals, accordion, and mandolin to form one of the most well-rounded songs on the record. “Percheron Mules” combines all of Tyler’s recent influences: bluegrass (2020’s Long Violent History), gospel (Can I Take My Hounds To Heaven?), and now Elvis-style crooning, but it also touches on another theme running through the album.

“[The album also] has all these allusions to horse-drawn equipment and pieces of harnessing,” Childers told NPR. “I was spending a lot of COVID time working these two mules. My grandpa grew up as a tenant farmer in Lawrence County, and always kept a horse up until he passed. And his favorite brother Lucian, lived down the road and he worked mules up until the ’90s. And so it was a part of my history. And then the world shut down. I was like, no better time than now. And that was a lot of fun, so that was kind of where my head was at. The album has a lot of love songs, but if there’s a thread, it’s the mules.”

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Of course, not all of Rustin’ In The Rain is an homage to The King or mules. There’s still plenty of space in the 28 minutes for Tyler to be Tyler, like the good ole hollerin’ title track, reminiscent of one of his staple songs “Feathered Indians”. Moreover, Rustin’ In The Rain is a collection of love songs, best personified in the lead single “In Your Love” which (*puts on tin foil hat*) has a piano intro that sounds similar to Marc Cohn‘s “Walking In Memphis”, also a tribute to Elvis Presley. Childers also shines a light on fellow Kentuckian S.G. Goodman by ending the album with a cover of her song “Space and Time”, a staple of Tyler’s recent live sets.

Tyler Childers – “Rustin’ In The Rain” [Official Video]

And with some leftover divine inspiration from Can I Take My Hounds To Heaven?, Tyler also delivers this year’s hottest new Christmas track.

“There’s a Christmas song, based on Luke 2:8-10: ‘Now there were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.’ And then this sentient being popped out the sky and said, ‘Don’t be afraid.’ And everybody said OK? The song’s about the shepherd looking up and just being scared to death,” Childers explained.

Stream Tyler Childers’ new album Rustin’ In The Rain via the player below or on your preferred platform. He is currently on tour, with his next show slated for Sunday in Philadelphia. Visit his website for tickets and a full list of tour dates.

Tyler Childers – Rustin’ In The Rain