Four years ago, I wrote that the Nashville-country superstar Eric Church was our greatest working rock star. That was hyperbole, of course. (And it’s now outdated in an era when our greatest working rock star is Lil Uzi Vert.) But I’d just watched Church play a ridiculously entertaining high-energy arena show, and that was what my heart was feeling that day. And anyway, the point stands: Church is someone who’s at the top of his genre because he breaks its rules in big, exciting, arena-filling ways. If that’s not a rock star, I don’t know what is.
Within the upper ranks of the Nashville country hierarchy, Church is unique because he draws as much from Southern rock as he does from classic country and because he’s always looking for new ways he can explore those genres. His 2014 album The Outsiders might be the best album to come out of the pop-country world this decade, and 2015’s Mr. Misunderstood wasn’t far behind. Next week, Church will release a new one called Desperate Man, and if you’ve got any love in your heart for present-day country music, you should be excited.
Desperate Man is out 10/5 on EMI Nashville.