In a week that saw country music in the spotlight for its controversial themes, singer-songwriter Tyler Childers is offering a refreshing counterpoint with the music video for his latest single, "In Your Love."
The video, directed by Bryan Schlam and produced in collaboration with queer writer Silas House, weaves a touching narrative of love and resilience in the face of homophobia.
Amidst the controversy surrounding Jason Aldean's song "Try That in a Small Town," which has raised concerns over its lyrics evoking Jim Crow era vigilantism and xenophobia, Childers' "In Your Love" serves as a powerful reminder of the genre's potential for inclusivity and progressive storytelling.
Set in 1950s Appalachia, the music video follows the heartwarming journey of two male coal miners, Jasper and Matthew, portrayed by actors Colton Haynes and James Scully.
You can see the video below.
Despite facing violent homophobia in their workplace, their love story unfolds against a backdrop of adversity. The video authentically captures the struggles and challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community during that era.
Speaking to NPR, Childers shared his motivation for featuring a same-sex romance in the video, expressing a desire to honor his cousin, who identifies as gay, and emphasizing the importance of using his platform to stand up for positive causes.
“Even if you have the privilege of walking through this world unfazed, it’s more important than ever to stand with and for and up for things, to be vocal."
“I think one of the things that makes Tyler such a great artist and such a great friend is that he’s so empathetic. He wants to tell a story like this because he has friends and family who are members of the LGBT community, and are part of the story of Appalachia, too.”
“These are human stories, not political stories."
"In Your Love" has gained attention not only for its heartwarming narrative but also for its stark contrast to Aldean's "Try That in a Small Town" with critics applauding the former for offering a more forward-thinking perspective within Nashville's country scene.
The music video for "Try That in a Small Town," released last month, came under scrutiny for allegedly promoting racism and advocating for vigilante justice. Filmed at the Maury County Courthouse in Tennessee—a site infamous for a historical lynching in 1927.
The video raised concerns about its content and dog whistle harkening back to the good old days of lynchings, sundown towns and Jim Crow.
Many have applauded Childers' message and pointed out the contrast between his and Aldean's music.
Aldean has attempted to reinterpret "Try That in a Small Town" as a song reflecting the sense of "community" he experienced growing up—despite not growing up in a small town—with unity among neighbors.
However, critics argue the video's content and messaging overshadow any intended positive interpretation at a time when many around the nation are pushing for comprehensive gun control measures in response to a spate of increasingly common mass shootings.
Last week, Country Music Television (CMT) generated controversy after making the decision to pull the music video for "Try That in a Small Town," prompting a wave of backlash from conservative circles and calls for a boycott.