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Album Review: Eric Church - 'Desperate Man'

October 4, 2018

 

Eric Church made waves in the news this summer because of a Rolling Stone cover story that took on politics and the National Rifle Association. If one reads past that part, they would find out Church has had a less-than-favorable time recently. This June, the 41-year-old lost his younger brother Brandon, who was 36.  The elder Church underwent life-threatening surgery in June of 2017 after being diagnosed with a blood clot in his chest. That Oct., he headlined a night of the Vegas Route 91 Festival that sadly ended with 58 people murdered and many more injured. He wrote the title track as a response to the tragedy and adapted it as the name of his sixth studio album, "Desperate Man."

 

The album starts with a song called “The Snake.” A rattlesnake and a copperhead represent both major political parties, which get stronger and laugh while the world burns down around them. The second song on the album, “Hangin’ Around,” has a quicker tempo and a straight-'70s vibe. “I play the movie villain, now you have me playing for keeps” is a line that stands out.

 

"Desperate Man," from start to finish, is a good album. Most songs are not typical in the country format, but Church is anything but typical. Most of the album has that '70s feel (think The Band). Lyrically, it tells the stories country music fans love – the up and downs. “Some of It” talks about learning lessons in life, and “Monsters” is an adorable story of a child

looking for monsters in the dark and an adult realizing the evils of this world are scarier than the ones in the dark. The song also has a spiritual side, which personally I love.

 

Church is not your typical pop-country artist who sings about drinking and picking up girls. There are serious elements to many of these songs: the government turning its back on the

working man, breaking hearts, life lessons and family. Sure there is a song called "Jukebox and a Bar," but it is about more than drinking. He uses lyrics like "phosphorescent dark" and "incandescent notions." One might call Church a lyrical genius with those lines.

 

As if the record wasn’t amazing enough, Church is taking it up a notch with his next tour. Last year, Church went on tour, playing nearly three-hour-shows, no opener – just Church. How would he top that? He responded with the Double Down Tour, where he'll play two unique shows on back-to-back nights in the cities he stops in on Fridays and Saturdays. The tour will kick off in Omaha, Neb. Jan. 18-19 before making its way to St. Louis at the Enterprise Center Jan. 25-26. To help get pit tickets into the hands of his faithful fans, and out of the hands of scalpers, Church came out with an app, which 50,000 people logged into on Sept. 29 to try to buy tickets. (This actually shut down the platform for the app and affected Zac Brown's and Keith Urban's apps as well.)

 

I am looking forward to seeing Church sing some of these new songs, along with some from his first album, "Sinners Like Me," during the Double Down tour. He is an artist whose music has aged along with him. The stories he tells and his sound have been evolving. This is refreshing, as with many artists they get stuck in their niche – this is not the case for Church.

 

He has said before what pushes him is finding new creative ground; he doesn’t want to make music just to make the same music. It is safe to say he is continuing to find new creative ground.

 

I can’t imagine the pain of losing a brother, but as someone who had the privilege of knowing

Brandon, my heart breaks for his family. On the album art, Church inscribed, “I’d like to dedicate this record to a lover of life and music, my brother, Brandon. Until we met

again on the other side.”

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