Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Country Music Spotlight: Eric Church

The first singles of Eric Church's career made him stood out from the crowd from the get-go. Him and (especially) Brantley Gilbert have an iron grip over the image of a biker country boy, one adorn with scruffy jeans, baseball hats and perhaps a touch of remorse in his soul. That image was reinforced by his tunes that introduced him to the country music crowd, one of which was titled Two Pink Lines, which dealt with two folks, after spending the night together, awaiting the results of a pregnancy test.  Not exactly the stuff Junior Brown would croon about, but then again, for Eric Church, the norm was just another barrier to burst. But he wouldn't burst through one particular barrier, that of incredible success, until his third album, Chef.

Of course, prior to that collection of music, one could see the marks of Church being a future country super-star, simply because the music was of impeccable quality. One of his best songs came from this era, in fact, it came out just a year before he hit the big time, was Hell On The Heart. A thoughtful and memorable look at how the singers lover affects him, one could tell Eric Church managed to pack emotion the lyrics that intriguingly clashed with his tough guy appearance. Maybe he could crack your back in a barfight, but he was also just as likely to pluck a girl a daisy and harmonize her with a sweet love song.

With that kind of duality in place, all it would take is a combination of timing and quality for Eric Church to make it. And with a party ditty called Drink In My Hand, that emerged from the aforementioned hit album Chef, he finally did. This track managed to capture the feeling of escapism that comes with the weekend, and merged them with alcohol and potential one-night stands. Add in the unforgettable presence of a guitar in the song, and it was no wonder it went big. Ah, but his biggest song was yet to come. For you see, hidden among the album was another smash hit in the making.

Springsteen. Which is easily one of the best country songs ever made.

The mood of longing hangs over the tune, giving it this bittersweet feeling that just can't be shaken. Church was born to sing a song like this, especially when his voice is paired with the songs beautiful lyrics. Truly, it'll get any listener, regardless of their knowledge of country music, to get into a mood of reminiscing. Such is the power of Eric at his best. The song is the only one of Churchs career to go Platinum twice, and even caught the attention of the singer the song is named after. Truly, Eric Church had come into his own. And now, he was ready to tweak the genre that had finally embraced him.

With his latest album, The Outsiders, which debuted this past February and hit No. 1 on not just the Country Music Albums chart, but the Number One position on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. Not too shabby, not too shabby at all. The album has already delivered a No. 1 hit (Give Me Back My Hometown) but it also manage to deliver a more rock-n-roll vibe to the country music scene. Eric Church has not been subtle in the way he's pushing musical boundaries in terms of genre conventions (he even boldly predicts that separate genre labels will one day be a thing of the past) But regardless of his mighty musical ambitions, as long as he continues to produce beautiful hits like A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young (wow, what a powerful song), Eric Church won't just be famous for challenging the status-quo. Most importantly, he'll be known as one of the greatest country artists produced so far in the 21st Century.

Next Wednesday....Franchise Frenzy returns by looking at all the Transformers and seeing if there's anything that's more than meets the eye with that film series.

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