The aviators and trucker-hat wearing country singer is back with an album that mixes and matches styles, and he’s brave enough to throw a few curve balls in there to knock you off your feet. But does Eric Church manage to pull it off?
The Outsiders is Eric’s first album since the live recording Caught in the Act, released only last year, and it’s good to have some new material from the talented musician. Not content with just sitting around and being a family man, the record shows that Eric’s lost none of his ability to create quality music, and his passion is present throughout.
Album opener The Outsiders has to be one of his strongest opening songs to date. It doesn’t just throw you in at the deep end, it catapults you 500 feet in the air then splashes you down into a sound that’ll knock your socks off. Starting out quite innocently, from nowhere it kicks into a metal-based, country monolith. It’s interesting and inventive and shows Church revelling in his dark side and love of the metal genre. Not many others can mix country and metal-rock in such a wonderful way and get away with it.
Cold One uses a similar trick of starting off like any old country song, talking about alcohol and girls, but swiftly shows Eric’s invention again as the track turns into a new beast. It’s a twisting and turning country monster, with hip-hop style drums and interesting stops and starts.
That’s damn Rock and Roll is another album highlight. Church uses a speaking voice to destroy the myth of rock and roll cliché’s and provides the listener with subtle nuances that works really well.
But don’t threat if you’re still a classic country lover, Eric has you covered as well. Talladega is vintage country, giving you a clean slice of Americana in a loveable and feel-good four and a half minutes of fun. Like a wrecking ball is along the same lines; a nice country ballad that thankfully has nothing to do with Miley Cyrus and her serpent-tongued nakedness.
The Joint manages to close the record in a delightfully cheeky way. It’s relatively known by fans of Eric Church that he’s an avid advocate for the use of marijuana, and The Joint is an ode to the use of the substance. He’s been treading a fine line on this subject before, but his record label seem to have given up trying to stop him being affiliated with weed, and have let him get his own way by including this track on the record. The predictably chilled out song, not only shows off his rebel image, but also manages to be catchy and quaint with story-led lyrical content, a great album closer.
Another triumph for the man of many faces, The Outsiders is an album where the listener looks in, and can join Church and his inventive style on a journey sticking two fingers up to the passive and controlled of society.