Desperate Man – Eric Church
When it comes to musical legends – future Hall Of Famers so to speak – the term is often overused. But with Eric Church, it seems wholly appropriate.
The multi-award-winning artist from Granite Falls, North Carolina has had a career that has never seen him put a proverbial foot wrong. In fact, it would be fair to say that almost everything he touches turns to gold (and then platinum, if we’re referring to his record sales!).
So, with October 2018 seeing the release of his sixth studio album – and his first for almost three years – you would think it would be difficult to be surprised by anything he puts out… but that is where you are wrong.
Desperate Man – contrary to the title – is a compilation of songs from a guy on the top of his game, and comfortable enough with his position to put together a group of personal tracks that mean something to the singer.
Eric doesn’t have to cater to an audience that are looking for a country/pop crossover. He is at a stage of his career where he can put out music that challenges his already huge fanbase to go on a journey with him, whether it is on a smooth, mainstream highway, or a small-town, time-warped dirt road.
This collection would certainly, for the most part, fall into the latter category.
The album has a deliberate edge to it. Many of the songs take you back to a yesteryear sound, that take you back to something more akin to Eric’s mentors and influences who helped him get to where he is today.
No track sums up the throwback theme more than The Snake, which opens the album.
The 73-second, single guitar-plucking intro is enthralling and mesmeric, leaving you in little doubt of the direction of the album. The beat kicks in, and is joined by some equally hypnotic, almost whispered, chanted lines from Church.
The song has a distinct Spaghetti Western sound, and your mind takes you to a dark-clad Clint Eastwood facing-off against the latest outlaw to rustle into Town.
If you didn’t know it before, you are left in little doubt now – this album is one for the country purist.
The dark start is followed by a somewhat psychedelic, ‘trippy’ Hangin’ Around – a funky 70s vibe, with some equally 70s rock ‘n’ roll vocals. It’s an upbeat alternative to the opener, but still in tune with the retro-feel.
The pace slows down again with Heart Like A Wheel. It’s a sexy track, that practically has steam rising from the speakers. While it may not be used by many as their wedding track, it may find a place in other parts of a wedding night.
The great tunes keep on coming. Some Of It and Monsters both have a traditional sound but just ooze quality.
Then comes Hippie Radio, which could end up being the song that the album becomes synonymous for. It wouldn’t be out of place with the great songs of the country hay-days of the 70s and 80s. The best way to let you know just how good this track is, would be to simply to let you listen to it for yourself.
The title track is the first single released from the album. An up-tempo, vibrant track with a catchy beat and an all-round, feel-good sound. Maintaining the traditionalist values of the album, once heard, it will be stuck in your head for the day!
The pace slows back down for the final three tracks, and like the predecessors, keep you glued to your sound system.
Drowning Man plays us out, but the only thing fans will be drowning in is the unique, compelling 11 songs that make up Desperate Man.
It may divide opinion for those who just dip their occasional toe in the country music ocean, but for Eric Church fans, and those of us of a certain age who have grown old(er) with the Southern twang, it is an eclectic mix that pushes the boundaries of current country music, and takes us on a journey of reminiscence to why we fell in love with it in the first place.