Album Review: Eric Church - “Mr Misunderstood”

Superstar country/rocker pulls a Beyonce (or a George Strait) and releases “Mr. Misunderstood” the day of the CMA Awards broadcast.

Starting Tuesday and early Wednesday, members of The Church Choir, Eric Church’s fan club were getting sent digital, physical CD or vinyl editions of a new record and they were instantly perplexed as to why they were actually getting such a record when nobody knew anything about any new music from Eric Church. In fact, “Roller Coaster Ride” from The Outsiders was projected as the next single and then later we found out that wasn’t likely to be the case as Eric’s new album would indeed be this one, a ten track album called Mr. Misunderstood.

Largely written and recorded within a span of a month with his road band and longtime collaborator Jay Joyce behind the boards (and on guitars), Mr. Misunderstood is that rare album that showcases everything an artist is. As if to prove this theory, a handful of the songs on Mr. Misunderstood are indeed self-written tracks with the rest all co-written by Eric Church. The album, currently exclusively available on his website and Apple Music.

The personal lyrics of “Holding’ My Own” are balanced over a delicious acoustic melody (while having a somewhat beach-y vibe) while “Mistress Named Music” is dark, brooding and entertaining but still a remarkable song that recalls the best of Southern Rock a la Marshall Tucker Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd. “Mixed Drinks About Feelings” is a duet with Susan Tedeschi and is the kind of soulful ballad that could be a hit on country radio while “Knives Of New Orleans” has a cool groove. “Round Here Buzz” has a hook so large that it’d be hard to see it not hitting with fans and radio and being a big hit for the star sometime in 2016.

“Record Year” is a clever, well-written tune about ways to get over a relationship. Again, this is one with a massive chorus and built for radio. The album closes with the personal “Three Year Old” song, a song about his son and all the lessons he’s learned by being the father to that three year old boy. “Mr Misunderstood,” the title track is a song which finds Eric singing about writing to his younger self about how things will work out and that his quirkiness (or why he’s “Mr. Misunderstood”) will be the thing that defines him.

This record may have been written in a short amount of time and came seemingly out of nowhere but Mr. Misunderstood is the kind of record Eric Church fans have grown to love to hear from him. He has evolved into an artist of supreme depth and one unafraid of unique sounds and loud guitars if it serves the song. Eric Church may be Mr. Misunderstood but country music is all for the better that he’s graced the genre with his presence.