Eric Church

24 albums, 144 tracks

Born in May 03, 1977

Country

Narratives

"Eric Church"

Feb 01, 2019

Eric Church Explores The Darker Side Of Country With Desperate Man

camjameson
Written by @camjameson from Extraneous Routes  / 9 mins read
#DesperateMan#EricChurch#blues#Country#TraditionalCountry

If you been paying even the slightest bit of attention to the Country music world in 2018, you’ll notice there’s been a massive uptick of vintage Americana-inspired releases from acts like Chris Stapleton, Midland & more, shunning the gaudy, formulaic Pop – not even good enough to be considered Country Pop – that has permeated the scene for the last five or six years now & replacing it with nothing but pure, unadulterated melodic charisma you can really get behind; Red Dirt, Outlaw, Blues & Southern Soul styles are all making their triumphant return to the mainstream, bringing with them spectacular new albums chock-full of wonderfully expressive analog instrumentation & heartfelt narratives that say more than the usual “I’m so sad I think I might just drink myself under the table down at the local saloon” – With his latest album Desperate Man, Eric Church takes this aesthetic even further, focusing on the humbling one-man-show vibes of the drifting singer-songwriter, effortlessly capturing the depression, recklessness & sensitivity of eighties-era Country music better with more efficacy than nearly all of his contemporaries, even the ones who’ve been running the show long before Church ever came along in the first place. What you get is a collection of wholesome tunes that bleed personality & sound unlike anything you’d typically hear on the radio, rekindling the passion of Country music without alienating modern listeners who’ve already written-off the aging genre as a niche style once again.

A Desperate Man Pushed To His Limits

Eric Church is no stranger to speaking his mind when faced with moral dilemmas, regularly lashing out at the banality of modern Country sensibilities on his Twitter account just like Satirical Country trailblazer Wheeler Walker Jr. often does & pleading for true storytelling to come back to its rightful place at the forefront of the genre, but with so few artists taking up the call, it’s only natural he’d become frustrated enough to just do it himself – Church accomplishes this in Desperate Man by producing tracks that drive forward with a furious Blues Rock energy in songs like “Hangin’ Around,” proving Country music still has some fight left in it as he dives into a decidedly anachronistic, stereotypically tobacco-mouthed drawl with fluttery, almost-Psychedelic guitar tones playing groovy upbeat riffs, yet at the same time he’s capable of turning things around with tracks like “Hippie Radio,” detailing the most important & tender moments that’ve taken place in the family car by ripping himself open so that his most intimate thoughts are bare for all to see, all taking place over a much more somber composition akin to the intimate Folk tunes of Joni Mitchel or Bob Dylan that shows just how technically-skillful the arrangements on this album are. He’s unafraid of showing his true face & unconcerned with making himself look good on the outside by utilizing some unrealistically majestic tale of serendipitous love; Instead, Church just wants listeners to care about the narratives he’s weaving & the spirit genre as a whole, placing value in the tangible connections shared through music rather than the spectacle audiences have come to expect from Country Pop offerings – Given the homogenous nature of the current radio market, you’re probably thinking Church is barking up the wrong tree, right? Yeah, well, it’s a thankless job that someone had to get done eventually & it luckily only gets better from here on out.

Respecting Those Who Came Before

It’s one thing to sing or play in the style of older Country music genres, either because it’s trendy or because you’re trying to convince audiences you’re a cultured performer worth paying attention to, but it’s another thing to actually embody them entirely from a compositional & production value standpoint, proving your deservedness in carrying the torch for future generations. Sure, Eric Church’s album Desperate Man is filled to the gills with Red Dirt sensibilities & brooding Outlaw masterpieces that many of his contemporaries have been finding similar success in these days, but it’s the way that he performs each style that makes the melodic variation of this album so compelling – Take “Some Of It” for instance: At face value, it sort of sounds like any number of tender Country Pop tunes we heard back in the early-noughties, comprised of plucky guitars with an unwavering momentum, triplet-shuffled percussion rhythms hearkening back to the delicate Emo Folk numbers of acts like Elliot Smith & the cyclical chord progressions any Jack, Dick & Diane could memorize or sing along to with joy, but it’s also the fidelity of the recordings that makes them sound just like something out of the late-eighties & early-nineties Country music scene; You have muddied guitar tones, subtle stadium reverb on the vocals that doesn’t quite match the instruments & the holy glow of church organs powering away in the distance, turning the entire composition into this delightfully sincere, rough-around-the-edges production you want to lose yourself within. It’s as if every chord, lyric & guitar riff is so raw & unbridled that you’re somehow able to feel the heart & soul of Church in every aspect of the album rather than just getting a generic, studio-perfected, hoity-toity mess of noise without any sense of personality – I’m lookin’ at you, Old Dominion – whatsoever, making Desperate Man quite possibly the best release he’s produced to date & a tough act for other Country music artists to top in the same year.

Everyone Loves A Rebel

Coinciding with the grungy texture of the recording process, every song on Eric Church’s Desperate Man comes packed with this ‘I don’t give a fuck’ energy that fills you – well, at least in my own personal case – with absolute joy, whether it be his ne’er-do-well attitude in songs like “Solid” or his disregard for timing, tonality & precision on “Higher Wire,” simply playing the music as it comes out over a singular, fuzzy amp like he was up on-stage during open-mic night singing his heart out to an empty smoking room; There’s no hyper-precise autotune to be spoken of here or virtually anywhere on the album, no shameless pandering to the sonic interests of modern crowds & no attempt to appeal to your Pop sensibilities whatsoever, just well-constructed songs with compelling stories that make you say ‘damn, that Eric Church guy’s got a lot of moxie, doesn’t he?’ – Hell, even his most Pop-centric song “Desperate Man” feels tongue-in-cheek for the most-part, relying on a hearty fusion of British Invasion Rock tonality & the subtle soulfulness of Motown music rather than dumbing things down to become a weak Soft Pop-leaning Country tune, giving the African-American influences of the sixties-era Rock’N’Roll scene a moment to shine ever-so-brightly; This narrative & melodic whimsy is likewise reflected in the accompanying music video, with Church posing as a drug-runner of sorts who’s getting his Walter White on in the background of his normal everyday life, only to reveal that this shady side-business is just him selling records of his band across state lines, giving some meta commentary on how the music industry really can turn you into a desperate man as you scrape to make money by any means necessary – I don’t know about you, but I’m always down for a lump or two of comedic values in my Country music to help it go down easier, especially if it gives you another reason to come back to an album long after you’ve put it down for the day.

Humility Guarantees Prosperity

By the time you’ve reached the end of Desperate Man, it’s crystal-clear that Eric Church is a man who could care less about what the industry expects of him, concerned with little more than illustrating just how deep his love for country music goes through compelling lyrics with deep meaning & having a damned good time as he does it; He’s old enough now to know exactly what it techniques or sonic profiles he likes & wise enough to not get caught up in the mainstream machine of productivity that would’ve robbed him of all the unique individuality he has festering inside, even if that means not receiving as much radio play as he’d likely have hoped. While he’s certainly carried traits of this wandering bad-boy mentality across the many records of his career, 2015’s spritely Mr. Misunderstood & the surprisingly unique 2006 album Sinners Like Me standing as particular works of narrative genius stretching from the modern age way back to when a cd release party was a big thing, there’s a sense of refinement on Desperate Man that feels surprisingly refreshing & new, as if Church had just been introduced to the Country Music scene for the first time – What you’re left with is an album that gives a wholesome impression of a man who has something to say & isn’t afraid to be incredibly messy about it, finding solace in the home-grown nature of bar-band Country music, eager to share it with the rest of us. Church may’ve been 41 years old at the release of this album, but his songs still manage to carry the same blasé aura of a teenager who’s just happy to have their mixtape out in the world, rendering every lyric he has to say relatable & impactful ‘cause it’s nothing but the honest-to-Betsy truth put to a killer tune – I won’t blame you if you’d still rather spend your time listening to the robotic sounds of bands like Florida Georgia Line or Kane Brown, but I also wouldn’t necessarily call you a real Country fan if Church’s Desperate Man doesn’t put a smile on your face & a pep in your step from the sheer thought of Traditional Country aesthetics making their triumphant return to the mainstream space.

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Biography

"Eric Church"

Born

    1977-05-03

Active

    2005–present

Label

  • Capitol Nashville, EMI Nashville

About

Kenneth Eric Church (born May 3, 1977) is an American country music singer-songwriter. He has released six studio albums through Capitol Nashville since 2005. His debut album, 2006's Sinners Like Me, produced three singles on the Billboard country charts including the top 20 hits "How 'Bout You", "Two Pink Lines", and "Guys Like Me".
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