And this brings us to Tyller Gummersall, raised in Southwest Colorado and self-proclaimed independent artist. Tyller has been immersed with music all throughout his life, desiring to be a singer ever since he was a little kid. You won’t hear songs trying to pander for attention on a mainstream country radio dial. Instead, you’ll find songs that come from the heart and more importantly, actually sound like they belong in country music. At the age of twenty-five Tyller has now released his fourth album, Long Ride Home produced by Lloyd Maines.
It’s a little ironic that I’m just finding out about Tyller now, since even though Long Ride Home is his fourth studio album, it feels like a debut record in a lot of ways. Not because there’s noticeable beginner blemishes or anything like that, but because a large part of this album focuses on Tyller himself – how he was raised, what he believes in, and learning lessons in the natural puzzle of life. As he proclaims in “Rocky Mountain Man”, “they don’t like my hat out in Nashville. Guess the cowboy really did ride away.” It’s a statement made near the beginning of the album that ensures fans of country music are going to enjoy this.
In terms of the instrumentation and production for a country album this album hits the nail on the head. While most country singers implement many of the core instruments of country music all throughout their albums, I think that Tyller implements them on every song here. Seriously, if you love steel guitar, fiddle, mandolins, and dobros you’ll get them in large quantities on every track on this album, leading to several beautiful solos on many of the songs here. These sounds are coupled with Tyller’s rich country voice which sounds older and more controlled than Tyller’s age suggests. And this rich, country voice ultimately leads to some damn good melodies, the ones on “Sing You A Song”, “Kiss Me”, and “Ghosts” being prime examples.
Lyrically, I already stated before that this is largely an album that focuses on Tyller himself. Through rich lyrical details we are introduced to the “proud of his roots” man that he is in “Rocky Mountain Man” as well as his hometown in “Long Ride Home”. “Better Than You Found It” shows Tyller gaining life advice from his father to leave the world better than he initially found it, making sure he follows his dreams as well as helps others follow theirs along the way. Ultimately it’s the same kind of advice Tyller wants to spread to his own kid one day.
While one part of this album submerges itself into exploring who Tyller is, the other part of it is quite simply – love songs. And surprisingly enough there’s enough lyrical texture to make these love songs stand apart from one another, even elevating some to the levels of downright excellent. Album highlight “Good Enough” finds a man who’s lived pretty rough over the past couple of years. He isn’t happy with who he’s become and now that he’s finally found a woman who makes him feel like a man, he wants to change his life around to be the man this woman deserves. There’s a strong sense of maturity to this album and this track is evidence of it. Another track that evidences maturity is “Living On Summertime”, where despite having an eye-rolling title actually is about a man who meets a girl during the summertime that he actually wants to build a relationship with. He doesn’t want to be a fling or somebody she’ll forget, he wants to make her his. “Kiss Me” finds a man in a rut with his life and thinking back to some of the greatest days in his life when he had his old lover back. The melancholy feel to this one really accentuates the lonely theme. And of course, my favorite track “Ghosts” deals with a man who, as you may have guessed, keeps having ghosts of past relationships creep up on him. He’s completely honest about it and states to a woman that he doesn’t know if he can love her due to his internal struggles. He wants to be free and wants this current woman to be the one to do it, otherwise he can never truly love her. It’s a brutally honest gut puncher of a song that is backed by an appropriate whine of steel guitar.
Now, if I’m going to nitpick with this album, I will say that despite being a solid collection of songs, the song “Country Boy” feels like the album’s pure filler track. It’s not a bad song necessarily, but its theme of Tyler’s roots is encapsulated much better with richer lyrics on tracks like “Rocky Mountain Man” and “Long Ride Home”. And while Tyller is an excellent lyricist, I do think he has more in him, and that the thematical content could be expanded further on later releases.
All that being said however, Long Ride Home is quite simply a fantastic country album in every aspect. It’s true that just because something is country doesn’t automatically make it good, but Tyller takes it a step further on these songs by providing rich lyrics and excellent vocals. While it’s impossible to listen to every underdog out there, Tyller Gummersall is an artist who is and will continue to be on my radar, and I think he should be on yours as well.
Best Tracks: “Kiss Me”, “Ghosts”, “Long Ride Home”