If I’m being honest, the way Eric Church’s latest album “Desperate Man” began, I was nervous I wasn’t going to like any of it. Thankfully, Eric proved me wrong. Starting with a slow, single guitar, without a single word sung until 96 seconds in, it’s like Church realizes the anticipation of his new music, and is going to make you wait just another minute longer.
“The Snake” easily draws parallels to our current political climate, but in true Church fashion doesn’t name one side or the other, but rather how politicians as an entity are not the ones looking out for us. And that is as political as the album gets. Many thought after Church’s Rolling Stone article, where he championed the likes of Bernie Sanders and criticized the NRA, that he might be more vocal in this album, but Church has always been about the music, and his Church Choir, rather than pleasing the masses.
Church bookends the album with “Drowning Man” which complements “The Snake.” Championing the blue collar worker, as Church is known for doing: “We put the smoke in a stack/Put the seed in the ground/While Lady Liberty turns her back/And Uncle Sam just turns around/No I don’t wanna think about it.” Church knows his fan base and through his music he comes off as relatable, leading to his fans feeling like they’re part of his family.
This album has a feel to it that it is from another era. Songs such as “Hangin’ Around” sound like something straight out of the 60’s with some “Play That Funky Music” beats to it. Church’s lead single from the album “Desperate Man” falls in the same vein; a lot of steel guitar, and in true Church form it speaks of “taking it to the man.” Clearly Eric isn’t one to let others tell him how his music should sound, how he should release it, or how to perform, and this song is a testament to that philosophy.
“Higher Wire” is one of the more interesting love songs I’ve heard. I can hardly pronounce half the words in the chorus, but I do love hearing Church work his higher register, pushing himself as a vocalist to new territory.
With the song “Monsters” Church delivers a line that I cannot get out of my head. “Anymore when a restless feelin’ keeps me up at night/Fallin’ on my knees is my new turnin’ on the light.” Can he write a song or what?
As for “Jukebox and a Bar,” where would country music be without sad breakup songs, eased by a drink and a good song? Church puts his own unique twist on it, but close your eyes and you can imagine this song playing in a rundown bar sometime in the 1970s.
“Hippie Radio” and “Some of It” takes me back to some of Church’s classic songs, like “Talladega,” “Sinners Like Me,” and “These Boots.”
“Solid” is another song song of patience, this time only taking less than a minuete to get to the lyrics. It reminds me a lot of “Love Your Love.” The entire song Church sings about how his faith is solid. His truck and old blue jeans may be worn, but still solid. Then he leaves the chorus saying “In a great big world….It’s you that keeps me solid.” Just as he may love mustard on his fries, he loves his wife most, and without his wife, nothing else in his life would be solid.
Simple melodies paired with Eric’s haunting voice makes for a unique combination. I can’t quite put a finger on it, but Eric Church makes music that feeds your country music soul. Fill your cup up folks, our guy is back.