Album Review: Eric Church - "Desperate Man"

How does The Chief follow-up "Mr. Missunderstood?" By releasing an equally engrossing career-defining album, that's how.

Eric Church has been doing things to the beat of his own drum for years now and the man, who is as close to an “outlaw” as any artist in the mainstream country music can get in the year 2018, certainly follows his own drum on his sixth album Dangerous Man. The title track kicked off the project with radio and brought a good preview to what the rock and country roll record would entail.

“Hangin’ Around” is a brash slice of funky rock while “Heart Like A Wheel” shows off the R&B soul that fans grew to love on songs like “Like A Wrecking Ball.” He’s a man of conviction and showcases it both lyrically and vocally throughout the record."Some Of It" has a sound that feels like it'll be the biggest hit at country music radio for Eric Church since "Springsteen" while“Monsters” is the kind of lyrical sing-a-long song that Garth Brooks has always been looking for. It’s ready for the Arenas and that’s quite an achievement with a hammond-laced acoustic track about being around those around you, the monsters, in your life and in the world (who are different than the ones which scared us as children).

“Hippie Radio” is another acoustic-based moment and it’s a loving ode to family and road trips and, of course, growing up listening to the radio station with his father. It’s a common feeling we’ve all had with one of our parents and it often is a vibrant memory whenever a great song comes on the radio or across our ears. Nostalgia written from a unique angle: exactly what we want from Eric Church. There’s a reason for Eric Church to sing “Higher Wire” in a key outside of his normal voice. It’s about the strain an encompassing love with someone who will inevitably knock you out of that high. But it works to be perhaps my least favorite vocal of his career. “Jukebox And A Bar” takes us out of the strangeness that was the artistic risk of “Higher Wire” and brings another somber, sing-a-long ready moment, a song about a man who just needs two things to heal himself and his “barley beat-up heart.” Classic country storytelling at its finest.

Desperate Man is a record from a man clearly still at the top of his game (which he’s been at for nearly his whole career) and will certainly end up as one of the most-awarded, best albums from 2018.