Eric Church - Carolina

With a style that combines the 'grit' of the Outlaw era with modern lyrics, Eric Church has managed to score with audiences without much radio success. Will this album change his fortunes or is it more of the same?

Eric Church’s sophomore release Carolina is an achievement in originality.  Church has wisely re-teamed with producer Jay Joyce, whose unconventional methods enhance Church’s unique country-rock sound.  A true album, Carolina is cohesive yet dynamic, satisfying Church’s mission to “…make a record and I hope I have singles,” and not the other way around.

Carolina leaps out of the gate with the manic, amped-up scorcher “Ain’t Killed Me Yet” re-establishing Eric Church as the rebellious, youthful, hard living son-of-a-gun that fans of Sinners Like Me know.  He doesn’t let up with “Lotta Boot Left To Fill,” picking a fight with those who think “If it looks good on TV it will look good on a CD,” arguing, “I ain’t doggin’ what you’re doing/But then again, hell yes I am/I just don’t give a damn/Cause you still got a lotta boot left to fill.”  The top of the album maintains its driving pace with “Young And Wild.”  Listen closely and you’ll find that Joyce has a few tricks up his sleeve—like running tracks backwards—to push the energy level even higher. 

Not until the fourth track does Church allow a glimpse of his softer side with the ballad “Where She Told Me To Go,” which, in keeping with the prevailing attitude, paints him as a stubborn, bitter fool.  Here Joyce begins to introduce the soft, smeared edges that echo throughout much of the rest of the album, proving that a washed-out sonic landscape is still a powerful option in the ultra-clean digital era. 

As the mood starts to mellow, Carolina eases into the lead single “Love Your Love The Most,” a laundry list of things he loves, like “Good cold beer and mustard on my fries/I love a good loud honky-tonk, it rocks on Friday nights,” which is perhaps a poor representation of the originality and energy this album carries. 

Church had a hand in writing each of the album’s 12 tracks, but his solo efforts are his best.  “You Made It Look So Easy” and title track “Carolina” have a heart and sincerity that can’t be matched by any of the album’s committee-penned tunes, although a few, including “Those I’ve Loved,” come close.  In a nice progression from the album’s hard-hitting opening, Church seems to have found some peace in coming home to Carolina.