Driving on the highway can do a lot to clear your head I’ve found. Especially when you are all alone. And sometimes that silence forces your mind to work through ideas that you’ve been ignoring for weeks.
I’m sure you’ve heard metaphors about the highway before dear readers, and the common associations of a highway representing life and everything on it.
And why is that the country music genre seems to tackle that association so well? And seemingly so often?
I have to wonder if it’s a misconception or hard won strength of the genre.
Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood
released November 3, 2015
Kenneth Eric Church, known professionally as Eric Church, is an American country music singer and songwriter. Signed to Capitol Nashville since 2005, he has since released a total of five studio albums for that label.
Before I lean too far into this review, I should warn you, I’m not really a fan of modern country music.
That statement is probably difficult to pin down because there are so many forms and variations of country music, but what I think of when I use the term “modern” country music is specifically music that has come out of the 1970s and onwards. Think John Denver, Garth Brooks, The Dixie Chicks, Carrie Underwood and all of their like. I would have included Taylor Swift in that mix, but she turned heel at one point and became more mainstream. Check my Stimulating Sunday post from yesterday for more personal revelation on that.
This album had an atypical release, which I think is an important component to consider in the totality of the album experience of today’s world.
It was recorded in a month and was sent via mail to his fan club first.
Let’s reread that that sentence and break it apart. The Church Choir premium members all got copies of the album sent to them, via the postal service. But every fan member got a hold of the album in some form. And they got to hear it first. And they didn’t pay for it.
What an incredible notion for an album release. Something get’s quietly released to the most die-hard fans before it hits the ears of the critics. That means they got an unfiltered listen before the opinions started to crop up. In the days when instant communication is almost inescapable. This method of delivery very clearly highlights the intimacy and awkward delivery of the album’s contents. All of the tracks address various difficult issues with measured lyrics and thoughtful melody – ego (Mistress Name Music), heroes (Record Year), wisdom and youth (Three Year Old), identity (Mr. Misunderstood), loss (Mixed Drinks About Feelings), and language (Kill A Word).
I think my favourite track is probably Record Year, because it appeals to love and loss, both of which I have personally experienced. However, the one that will sit with most parents and anyone facing a period of cynicism is Three Year Old. Church is a father to two little boys and he realizes that the wisdom of a child is as powerful a truth as it ever has been.
I understand that his last album was supposed to be an arena effort with lots of studio power, this one feels like it’s meant to sit with you and not let go. That doesn’t mean you won’t immediately enjoy it, but it does mean that it will stay in your rotation for years to come.
The fact that Church’s influences come from country, folk, hard rock, alt rock, and metal is quite apparent to me. This is an incredibly nuanced album which has made a fan of someone who had lost interest in new works from this genre for the better part of his life.
While Eric Church doesn’t sing about the open road on this album at any point, he did manage to cover some well worn topics and rejuvenate them. And he rekindled my interest in the genre.
I can see why he might feel misunderstood, but I don’t think it will last too long. That’s it for today, I’m going to hop in my car and go for a drive with my new friend. Till next time.