Eric Church does not give a hoot about what anybody thinks of him.
In the much-anticipated follow-up to his critically acclaimed album “Chief,” Church had two intentions when writing his newest album “The Outsiders,” released Tuesday. The country singer from South Carolina wanted to please his loyal fans with off-beat, surprisingly catchy songs he is known for and piss off just about everyone else in country music.
The album starts out with more radio-friendly songs. For example, the song “Cold One,” is a different, funny break up song about a girl who leaves him and takes a beer with her when she goes. You wouldn’t be surprised about which act he is more upset about.
But once he gets his fill of possible singles, he turns dark toward the end of the album and begins his crusade against the current state of popular country music.
The album hits its epicenter of tension halfway through the song “Devil, Devil (Prelude: Princess of Darkness).” The song is an eight-minute tirade from Church about how the country music industry is just focused on money and not the actual art of the music.
The prelude is a spoken word introduction to the song “Devil, Devil” where Church describes Nashville and the popular country music business as the bride of the devil.
In the last segment of the introduction Church makes his most epic statement yet when he talks about meeting the actual “Devil” who runs country music:
“I shook his hand / And I know that he is real / So devil, you can go screw yourself, and then go straight the hell.”
After that line Church breaks into the full song about how he will not succumb to the temptations of selling out and not playing true country music.
Church has made these statements before in songs like “A Lot of Boot Left to Fill” on the album “Carolina,” and in the song “Country Music Jesus” on the album “Chief.”
But this album is something different. He has never gone on a rant like he did in the song “Devil, Devil.”
And it is about time somebody did.
With the last year’s summer ensemble, country music posted up artists like Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan, having them literally only sing about trucks, the riverbank and girls wearing tight blue jeans, “The Outsiders” should be a refreshing change for the spring of 2014.
The question surrounding the release of “The Outsiders” was whether it was going to be a successful follow up to “Chief,” which won CMA 2012 album of the year. In other words, was “The Outsiders” going to be better?
The answer is no.
There is no way “The Outsiders” could be better, because “Chief” was such an innovative album. Songs like “Springsteen” and “Creepin” were so different in their songwriting. Country music had never had songs that were a combination of a love song and a tribute to Bruce Springsteen all in one before. And nobody had risked the bold hard rock formula Church used when he wrote “Creepin.”
Not to say “The Outsiders” is not another phenomenal album from Church. Besides the singles like the album titled track, “The Outsiders” and “Give Me Back My Hometown” there is a strong amount of songwriting from Church that is worth a listen to.
The hidden gem track has to be “Talladega,” a song about him and his best friends taking a road trip to see the famous NASCAR race the summer after they graduated from college.
“The Outsiders” will not be pleasurable to some but the true country fan will enjoy the filterless Church trying to bring back country to its glory days.
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