If you like Tyler Childers, there’s someone else you should have on your radar: Cole Chaney.
He’s a Kentucky native just like Tyler, hailing from Boyd county, and at just 20 years old, his storytelling and songwriting already show maturity far beyond his years.
He recently released his debut studio album, Mercy, which is full of the grit, tenacity and darkness that’s seemingly baked into almost all of the music coming out of Appalachia right now… a large part of what sets it apart from other regions in the United States known for producing country music, like Texas and Nashville.
His first flash of buzz came from his lone single that was released earlier this year, “Ill Will Creek,” which was subsequently added to the tracklist for Mercy, as well.
The cover art alone for the song will remind you a lot of another breakout album in Tyler’s 2017 acclaimed masterpiece Purgatory.
The song details the struggles of life in rural Kentucky and the hardships that often feel inescapable:
“Well the sun goes down an holler turns to black See the water boil, hear the mountains laugh There’s a place where Earth and the underworld do meet Find whatever you seek at the head of Ill Will Creek”
Another great track from Mercy is “Another Day in the Life.”
He gets deep into some of the hardest parts of the monotony that is trying to move forward in life when it feels like there’s no way you can keep on doing the same thing every day.
One of his most popular songs, “Coalshooter,” addresses what is arguably the biggest issue in the the Appalachian region and has been for a very long time; the coal industry.
He points out the fact that places like Kentucky and West Virginia have some of the poorest areas in the country, yet are home to some of the richest businesses in mining.
He calls out the large corporations that continue to take advantage of the people who live in this region that have scarce options for work alternative to coal.
The lyrics are honest, direct, and downright sad:
“In Johnson county holler where the minin’ comp’ny bloomed He lived in a house with all five brothers, his dearest sisters too The summer heat was as bad as the mud that the human air did brew In the winter the snow just blowed on in through holes in the wall you could throw a dog through”
The last song I want to highlight is the title-track to the album, “Mercy.”
It’s a very personal story, as he tells it, and he was inspired to write it after more businesses closed where he lives and effected not only people he knows, but his own family:
“This song goes out to all the people that lost their jobs when AK Steel went down not too long ago.
And also all the people and families that are gonna have to be uprooted because Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital is shutting down, and we just found that out recently.
My family being one of those, my mother has worked at Bellefonte for many years, so this song is dedicated to all those people.”
He’s starting to get more and more buzz around his name, and after the release of this album, I think it’s only going to continue to grow.
Go ahead and jump on the bandwagon now, because it’s fulling up fast.