Red Lion country singer Tyler Joel performs the lead single from his new EP "Long Way Home." The single hit 35,000 views on YouTube in just three weeks. John Whitehead, For FlipSidePA
The grassy field behind Red Lion Zion United Methodist Church is where Tyler Barnett likes to sing best.
It’s quiet. No people, no commotion. Just a peaceful place to sit on the hood of his car and play guitar.
“I just sing and play and get inspired,” he said. “I like being outdoors and stuff like that.”
But soon, Barnett – who goes by the stage name Tyler Joel – won’t be playing to an empty field anymore.
After the lead single off his new country EP “Long Way Home” hit 35,000 views on YouTube in just three weeks in August, Joel decided he’s moving to Nashville to pursue a full-time singing career.
The 27-year-old has been singing since he was 3 years old and writing and recording since he was 12.
He grew up listening to country music with his mom. But that wasn’t always his style.
As a Red Lion Area Senior High School student, he toured the East Coast as the lead singer of a three-piece pop rock group Starting Over.
The band gained a pretty big following after one of its songs ended up on a Fallout Boy band member’s MySpace page. And soon, the band was making money from song placements for its single “Get Away” on the MTV series “Jersey Shore.”
But Joel said the band wasn’t for him.
“I was getting tired of the music we were playing,” he said. “I kind of outgrew it. I wanted to try and move on to bigger and better things.”
The band split after high school, and Joel spent the next few years producing pop, rap and R&B music in Miami with Jason Gilbert – who’s known for writing and producing songs for artists like Eminem, Christina Aguilera and Taio Cruz – before moving back home to take a break from music.
That’s when he found country.
He was working as a material handler at a York plastics factory at the time.
“I would just be at work and these song ideas would come to me and next thing you know, I would have 20 songs written without actually sitting down,” he said.
At first, Joel said he wasn’t trying to write for a specific genre. But as he continued to develop his songs, he realized they all had a country sound.
“I feel like it’s a better way of telling the stories,” he said. “More natural. Not so overproduced and so much added to it. It’s all about the melody and the lyric.”
Within a year, Joel had written and recorded his first five-song country EP, which he released Aug. 12.
Joel said these five songs are the most genuine songs he’s ever written because they tell true stories – stories like falling in love with a girl he just met or getting lost on an old dirt road with someone he cared about.
“I just want people to get a sense of the real me, I guess,” he said. “I feel like this is really the first time in my life that I wrote music that was actually myself. Not trying to be anyone else.”
And it’s paid off.
Joel’s single “Long Way Home” is now up to more than 43,000 views on YouTube and has been generating comments from new fans all across the country.
The upbeat country-pop track lists the many memories that surface when he drives past his childhood home.
“Nothing I’ve ever done has had that much attention in such a short amount of time,” he said. “I was shocked.”
But he’s not stopping there.
After getting feedback from songwriters and producers in Tennessee, he’s anticipating even more success in Nashville.
Joel said he plans to write every day, perform every night and learn as much as he can from fellow songwriters.
“That’s pretty much the place to be if you want to succeed,” he said. “If you want to win, you have to be in the game.”