By: Zackary Kephart
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- Eric Church has never been content with making the same album twice. From the beginning of his career, Church has shown the marks of someone who does it his own way.
His new album that released Oct. 5, Desperate Man, shows Church marrying his simpler side evident on earlier albums with his experimental side shown on his past two albums. The result is an album that offers a fresh breath of air in country music in a land full of generic male artists with no identity.
“The Snake” is one of country music’s boldest album openers of 2018. Showcasing bluesy guitar licks and spoken word dialogue from Church, he condemns corrupt political officials before letting out his own growl. It’s fitting that “Drowing Man” ends the album in a similar fashion.
Church’s experimental side shows itself on the ’70s rock, boogie number, “Hangin’ Around” and the soul-tinged “Heart Like A Wheel.” His simpler, more lyrically focused side comes in full force on “Some Of It,” an ode to the power of not knowing everything, and “Monsters,” a track that speaks of changing perspectives as age takes its toll. The song begins with gentle tones before exploding with loud electric guitars during the bridge, symbolizing the fear of change and those perspectives.
Thematically, the album revolves around trying to find a solution on how to live in these uneasy, politically charged times. Church’s writing is smart enough to offer nuanced perspectives even if a solution never surfaces.
Still, certain tracks rely more on flair than pure message such as “Heart Like A Wheel,” and Church’s experimental side doesn’t always result in a homerun. “Higher Wire” with its distorted production and Church’s attempt to use his falsetto results in a nonsensical, mess of a tune.
Desperate Man overall though sees Church still at the top of his game, delivering more thought-provoking material than his contemporaries would even dare to touch.