Throughout his August-released debut album, “Purgatory,” Tyler Childers vividly sketches scenes inspired by his upbringing in rural Kentucky. The emerging tunesmith is a fresh face in Americana, but his new effort features help from established heavyweights. Produced by Grammy-winning revivalist Sturgill Simpson and featuring string support from a small cast of Nashville session aces, including fiddler Stuart Duncan, his record showcases Childers’s knack for engaging, blue-collar tales, delivered through edgy, boot-stomping bluegrass and gritty, insurgent country.
Childers sings with a raspy, heartfelt tenor, colored by an Appalachian drawl (think Del McCoury meets Paul Westerberg). It enhances the effect of his seedier story songs: “Banded Clovis,” a murder ballad mixing an old-time aesthetic with a modern look at pill addiction, and “Whitehouse Road,” a galloping, ragged rocker about cocaine-fueled escapism.
Despair, though, doesn’t shape the entire record. In the swirling, dusty soul meditation “Universal Sound,” Childers recounts a retreat to the mountains, where he sheds his vices — tobacco and moonshine — in favor of clearheaded contemplation. “Lady May” is even more redemptive. It’s a poetic backwoods ballad that Childers wrote for his wife and contains lines ready for wedding vows: “I’ve seen my share of trouble, and I’ve held my weight in shame, but I’m baptized in your name.”
Show: Friday at 7 p.m. at Songbyrd. 202-450-2917. songbyrddc.com. Show is sold out.