Road warrior, songsmith, and proud Kentucky native Tyler Booth has been making a name for himself in country music since he first started playing festivals around his home state as a high schooler. Born and raised in Wolfe County, Kentucky, he grew up in a musical family, often sitting in on the rehearsals of his dad’s rock band.
After enrolling in Morehead State University’s Traditional Music Studies program, he quickly caught the attention of one of his professors, Scott Miller, an old friend of songwriter Phil O’Donnell (George Strait, Craig Morgan). After Miller made the connection, O’Donnell invited Booth to Nashville, where the two cut his first EP, Self-Titled, released independently in 2017. A couple years later he was featured on legendary duo Brooks and Dunn’s country swing-style ballad, ‘Lost and Found’ on their ‘Reboot’ album, and then in 2021 he released his own ‘Grab the Reins’ EP which features one of his best songs to date, the fabulous, ‘Palomino Princess.’
Booth grew up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky in a town called Campton, which is home to less than 500 people and nestled up to the Red River Gorge. His upbringing is the fabric of who Booth is today and contributes to his resolute values and a strong work ethic. The singer shared that the distinctive style of music born in Appalachia trickles into his own songs, since it’s part of who he is. Booth said, “A lot of the music I make has been inspired by Appalachia. There are so many great artists from there: Dwight Yoakam, Keith Whitley, the Judds, Sturgill Simpson.” The singer pulls inspiration from new and old sounds as well as other types of music. Booth noted that he finds himself creating sounds that parallel old blues music like BB King, as well as Texas country. “Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker – all the guys out from Texas – all that stuff has always influenced me.” He chose to record his new EP with producer Beau Bedford in Dallas, who Booth was drawn to from his work with Paul Cauthen. Add in the influence of rock artists like Ozzy Osborne and ACDC, who he heard via his dad growing up, and you’ve got quite an intriguing mix of sounds and styles.
Across the 6 songs on this EP you’ll find a little something of everything referenced in the paragraph above. The project opens and closes with some smooth, melodic neo-traditonal Country music in the shape of ‘Different Kind of Blue’ and ‘Bring on the Neon.’ The former highlights Booth’s smooth, rich vocals as the song builds to one of the best choruses on the EP. Part Cash, part Presley with a little Chris Issak, Jace Everett, Scott Stapp and Eddie Vedder thrown in for good measure, ‘Different Kind of Blue’ is a gorgeous song designed for late nights and bar stool choirs. ‘Bring on the Neon’, meanwhile, is a nicely done, heartfelt heartbreak song that evokes the greats of the past in plaintive, haunting style. ‘Let the last one out,’ Booth sings, ‘in desperation, turn off the light.’ More plaintive Country guitars and a little 70s organ add to the vibes here as the crooner in Booth sends us on our merry way in style.
Elsewhere you will find a little bit of modern Country and southern muscle on tracks like ‘G.O.B. by the G.O.G.’ This one is a mid-tempo ode to southern raising, small towns and humility. It’s a much better reflection of southern life and mentality than the clunky and vaguely aggressive recent effort ‘Try That in a Small Town’ from Jason Aldean as Booth sings, ‘I’m a red neck, blue collar, white T shirt till I’m six feet deep in the dirt.’ Familiar themes and traditional southern values are deftly handled and done well here on a song that would play nice on the radio.
Booth’s rock influences can be found on the very cool ‘My Favourite Drink.’ Here a heavy, rock-leaning opening and chugging guitars evokes bands like ACDC and Lynyrd Skynyrd. ‘I’ll kill the pain with whatever you’ve got…..since you poured our love down the sink, my favourite drink is a lot,’ Booth sings on a heartbreak song with a bunch of balls and a real groove. Dirty harmonicas remind me of bands like Georgia Satellites and Tesla jamming with Dwight Yoakam. ‘My Favourite Drink’ is a fun song, tongue in cheek and rocking! It should have a life of its own outside this EP.
The 90s Country influences come thick and fast on ‘Keep it Real’s other two songs. ‘I Got Paid’ is a nice change of pace when it arrives, mid EP. It’s a funky, mainly acoustic song with a summery, beach vibe. ‘Money can’t buy happy, that’s what they say,’ Booth sings, tongue in cheek again, ‘but things have sure been better since I got paid.’ Alan Jackson and Trace Adkins would be the touchstones here on a song about reaping the rewards of your hard work and the cheeky laugh from Booth at the end of the song tells us that he is just messing with us all too. ‘Real Real Country’, meanwhile, picks up sonically where ‘I Got Paid’ left off, hence the sequential pairing of the two songs together. There’s some bluesy harmonicas and southern guitars on this track as it builds towards a very Blake Shelton-esque anthemic chorus about southern life and keeping things real. More familiar references to guns, hard work, trucks and not being ‘trodden on’ flesh out the lyrics and a big guitar solo underpinned by some funky bass propels the song forward at a rate of knots too.
Tyler Booth is a young artist with an old soul and a voice from decades past. ‘Keep it Real’ is his most consistent release to date and it shows us an artist beginning to stand out amongst the morass of other male singers trying to channel those two lightning rod facets of southern life and classic 90s Country. He can rock out when he wants to but he can also croon along with the best of them too. The lyrics and themes of the songs on ‘Keep it Real’ are fairly standard in terms of love, heartbreak, drinking and southern balls but he carries it well and provides the listener with an energetic and intriguing set of songs that are well worth a listen. For an artist right at the beginning of his journey ‘Keep it Real’ is a fine start to what has the potential to be a glittering career.
Tracklist: 1. Different Kind of Blue 2. G.O.B. by the G.O.G. 3. My Favourite Drink 4. I Got Paid 5. Real Real Country 6. Bring on the Neon Record Label: Sony Music Nashville Release Date: 15th September Buy ‘Keep It Real’ now
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