On July 12, 2018, Eric Church gave his die-hard fans something to celebrate: a new album was on the way.
Church released the single “Desperate Man,” which is also the title track of his new album, on the same day. Since then, he has released two other singles off the album, “Heart Like a Wheel” and “Monsters.”
Church’s fan club, The Church Choir, had the opportunity to view the entire album before it released, and Church has also teased almost every track of Desperate Man on Instagram and other social media platforms.
Two weeks after the announcement of Desperate Man, Church appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Rolling Stone writer Josh Eells did an incredible job of capturing Church and his demeanor, as well as covering topics ranging from Church’s snub at the CMA’s last year to his thoughts on gun control.
The long awaited album is finally here, however, and here are my thoughts on the 11-track album, Desperate Man.
The first track on Desperate Man starts out with an eerie one-minute guitar intro that sets the tone for the album. The lyrics to the song are significant and politically motivated. The “rattlesnake and copperhead” that Church sings about are the political parties of the United States. “Either one of them will kill you dead,” he sings.
Eric Church has proven to country music fans that he’s great at getting a point across while still being subtle. Church is an incredible songwriter and has a talent that many artists lack in music today. “The Snake” is no exception.
This song is full of funky soul. Most of the album reminds me of different genres of music from the 1970s, but none more than “Hangin’ Around.” It’s one of those feel good songs that you’ll never learn all the words to, and that’s okay, because it’s meant to be danced to, not sung.
“Heart Like a Wheel”
Eric Church has always been about straying towards the more rock and blues side of country music, and “Heart Like a Wheel” is full of soul (as with many other tracks on the album). From the lyrics to the instrumentation of the song, everything screams “not country,” and yet Church somehow makes it country.
In his interview with Rolling Stone, the author stated, “and if you ask him whose career he hopes for, he offers up not Garth Brooks or George Strait but Springsteen and Bob Seger.” Church’s inspiration from music legends offers up a new perspective to the style of Desperate Man.”
“Some of It”
“Some of It” is more classic Church than any other song on the album. This track sounds like it could fit in perfectly with his first album and second album. It has more of a country feel than the other 10 tracks.
The song is all about the wisdom Church has gained over his life, and is him passing on that wisdom to his audience, but mostly to his two young sons.
In the chorus, he sings,
Some of it you learn the hard way;
Some of it you read on a page;
Some of it comes from heartbreak;
Most of it comes with age
“Monsters” is a ballad dedicated to Church’s youngest son. The opening line is whimsical: “I killed my first monster when I was seven years old; he melted like butter in my bathroom 60 watt bulb.” The song highlights Church’s faith by saying “falling on my knees is my new turning on the light.” It shows that he is teaching his son that “the monsters ain’t underneath the bed.”
This track is dedicated to Eric Church’s nostalgia. He mentions his dad’s old Pontiac, and how he remembers growing up singing to “Hippie Radio” with his dad as a kid, with his girlfriend as a teenager, and years later with his own son.
“Higher Wire” takes a different direction on the album. It’s about his addiction to a woman that he just can’t let go of, even though the relationship is bound to end up in tragedy. The higher the wire, the harder the fall.
The title track and first single off the album features piano and Latin drums, making it another song that is different than anything Church has done before. The song tells the tale of a man who has been everywhere and tried everything. He’s desperate to live his life at any and all costs.
“Solid” is reminiscent of early ‘70s soft rock. The song focuses on making due with what you have and being true to yourself. Especially when you can count on something time and time again, like Church can with his old truck, his beat up guitar, and his old school way of living. Church also gives a shout-out to his wife in the lyrics: “it’s you who keeps me solid.”
“Jukebox and a Bar”
This track is also about Church’s tried-and-true way of living. He’s dealing with a heartbreak, so his go-to solution is “going with old-time tested; a jukebox and a bar.”
“Jukebox and a Bar” is also reminiscent of Eric Church’s older albums, and more “classic country” than other tracks on the album. Heartache has always been the basis of country music, after all.
The last song on Desperate Man is another issue-centric song. This time, however, Church is eluding to the disparity between the rich and the working class. He says he doesn’t want to hear about how they have the good life, while he’s struggling to make ends meet.
The instruments play a little harder with every verse, and it’s easy to tell that Church is pissed off, and the only way to fix his mood is to “pour some whisky on this drowning man.”