If you think honky tonks, whiskey, wronged women, boots and/or blue jeans when you hear the words Nashville music scene, you wouldn’t be blamed. Except here is one of Music City’s most gifted players and native sons William Tyler.
Tyler’s latest album Modern Country (June 3rd) doesn’t have any lyrics about trucks or dirt roads in the traditional sense; it doesn’t have any lyrics at all. Instead, it has supernal yet powerful instrumental odes to America’s unique landmarks past, present, and waning. After spending four years on a solo tour driving across the country multiple times, Tyler (also known for his involvement with the Silver Jews and Lambchop) found himself “falling back in love with the vast and jarring expanse of America.”
Tyler took a sabbatical from his hometown to write Modern Country in Oxford, Mississippi, where he stayed at the cabin of a family friend nearby William Faulkner’s house, Rowan Oak. There and on the road he thought about the dichotomies our country presents.
“The cultural geography of this vanishing America is what I sense as a slow fade on these long roadtrips,” he says.
Today, we’re premiering a track inspired by one of those vestiges of early American road trips “Sunken Garden,” featuring multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook (Hiss Golden Messenger, Blind Boys of Alabama), bassist Darin Gray (Tweedy, Jim O’Rourke), and percussionist Glenn Kotche (Wilco).
“I was initially inspired by the Debussy piece ‘Sunken Cathedral.’ The phrase ‘Sunken Garden’ refers to a style of botanical design that was featured at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and a similar complex of gardens in St. Petersburg, Florida. The gardens in Florida were built as an early roadside tourist attraction at the dawn of automobile travel in the South in the 1930s, and, thus, the song is a tribute to those initial Southern travelers of the highways.”
To order or download Modern Country out on Merge Records, click here.