“The drinking really slowed the album’s progress and caused all kinds of harm to my personal and professional life. Luckily, I gave up the bottle in November of 2016, and began piecing my life back together.”
This is Tyler Burba, songwriter and proprietor of country-tinged group Visit, who have their upcoming album, Existential Hymns, dropping this Thursday December 8th.
Burba’s background of singing in gospel competitions and studying poetry lends itself to his unique style of music. After pursuing the Buddhist faith, his music has come to reflect existentialist ideals, with themes of mortality and tribulation, which reflect in his newest album.
Twelve years in the making, Existential Hymns transcends the borders of traditional country music, clearly drawing on Burba’s spiritual experiences and personal demons fought and conquered.
The opening lines of the album, which come from the song “So Much More,” sum up the album best: “There’s so many things / I didn’t know before / But now I know / What I don’t know / Is so much more.” [It’s] the old Socratic realization of the limits of one’s own knowledge,” Burba told us.
His tasteful lyrics showcase a keen storytelling ability, elevated by the diversity of musical influences.
When asked about overarching themes or motifs in the project, Burba told us, “A common thread that runs through the thirteen songs on Existential Hymns, is humility. The album chronicles my inner turn from a musician drunk on the myth of fame – and literally alcohol – toward one who has been humbled by the hard knocks of life, fatherhood, relationship challenges, and the realization of the shortness of life.”
However, the writing and recording process wasn’t without its bumps in the road- or perhaps bumps on the tarmac. “The night before the recording [in 2015], I was on a bender and ended up missing the early morning flight. There was a small plane crash that morning, followed by a snow storm, and it took me fourteen hours to get on another flight. I spent the day drinking. I was picked up at the airport in Minneapolis, still drunk, and we went straight to the studio, unable to rehearse before the session. I left with drum and bass tracks for all the tunes, albeit with a hangover.”
He went on to say, “The post-Trump depression and the pandemic also set things back a bit, but I was able to build a home studio, begin tracking the rest of the parts, and work closely with Rob Weston (co-producer and mixing engineer) to complete the album. The album is a chronicle of transformation and its completion marks a total change of lifestyle.”
Burba’s playful teaser trailer for the album behaves like one of those cable commercials promoting the sale of classic country or gospel records, like those of maybe an Alan Jackson. The album cover, that harnesses hints of “Renaissance hagiography,” gives the project a satirical feel. Paired with outlandishly creative and memorable visuals, the trailer is one that sticks with you, and might even trigger some familiar memories of your own.
Existential Hymns is a great looking glass into the mind of Burba and the project that is Visit, and is easy on the ears and stimulates spiritual intellect.
“Music can get us through tough times and make the good times more meaningful by connecting our experience to other people, across all times. I strive to do that service for my fellow humans.”
*Note: Paul Howard contributed to this article.