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Album Review: Eric Church – ‘The Outsiders’ [VIDEO]

Eric Church
Terry Wyatt, Getty Images

I’m not sure anyone was more excited than me to get their hands on a copy of Eric Church’s The Outsiders.  From the moment I heard the title track, I couldn’t stop thinking about the release date.  It became kind of an obsession really.  I picked up my copy yesterday and I have to say it’s not what I expected.

I was expecting lots of dark, brooding, rocking music.  No sappy, love songs or party anthems.  So when I found some of that on here, I was a bit surprised — not disappointed, just surprised.  I will give you my thoughts track by track.

The Outsiders   This tune pretty much speaks for itself.  He makes it clear that he does things his own way and I think this is a great tune to kick off the album with. While this song didn’t do well commercially, I believe loyal Eric Church fans loved it and I think it’s one that people will remember years from now.

A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young – I believe this tune is probably a bit biographical for Eric.  It’s about a guy who has lived hard and wonders how he outlived Hank and Jesus. One of the key lyrics in the song is:

I put the rage in river and the roll in the the thunder.

Then he meets a woman who helps him settle down and everything changes for him.  I was surprised to find this tune on here because in some ways it reminds me of Love Your Love The Most and in an interview he revealed he wasn’t a fan of that song.

Cold One —  This song made me chuckle because it’s about the perfect day, the guy is out on the lake with his girl and his beer.  The girl decides to put their relationship on ice and all he’s really upset about is that she left him one beer short of a twelve pack.  It gives you a smile and somewhat reminds me of Brad Paisley’s cheeky humor.  Love this one!

Roller Coaster Ride – This one has lots of fun sound effects and it reminds me of an ’80′s rock song.  It is a song of heartbreak, it’s been a roller coaster ride since his love has been gone.  I love the funky beat and even though, lyrically, it’s a country song it’s more upbeat.  I can totally picture myself rocking out to this tune in the car, with the window rolled down and singing my heart out.

Talladega – This could easily turn in to a summer anthem.  It’s not as upbeat as some of the other songs that have turned into summer party songs, but it literally makes you want to find an old Winnebago and jump in for a long road trip with friends.  Again, I never would have imagined a song like this to appear on this album but I really like it.

Broken Record – This is like a sweet mixture of rock and blues, I don’t know how else to describe it.  This is a love song of sorts and not my favorite on the album but I love that it’s different. It’s a different type of lyric, different music and a different way of approaching the topic.  Maybe the best way to say it is it’s not your typical cheesy love song.

Like A Wrecking Ball – When I first read the name of this track I was thinking ‘oh gosh, is this going to make fun of Miley Cyrus?’  I’m not familiar with Miley’s tune but this one is pretty cool.  I like the production on it, the music isn’t overbearing and it’s another surprising love song.  This is definitely one of my favorites on the album.

That’s Damn Rock & Roll – This is another tune that I would definitely say is biographical for Eric.  It’s a lot about telling those “in charge” where to go.  It’s about doing what you love because you love it — it’s not about money, fame or all the perks that go along with it.  I can totally picture Rascal Flatts’ faces when they hear this one!  Oops we’re supposed to quit talking about that.

Dark Side – So far, this is my favorite song on the album.  I love that he talks about what he’s capable of doing but doesn’t.  He reflects on his life, all the bad things he’s done and how he hopes his wife and child never find any of that out.  (Personally, I find this a little hard to believe because of the segment on CBS Sunday morning this past week.)  My favorite line out of the song is:

 all you thugs and ugly mugs dealing drugs and makin’ noise. You can kill each other all you want but if you touch my little boy, you beggin’ for this bullet will be the last thing you do before I let my dark side come out to play.  

Maybe a bit violent, but I think it speaks to what humans are capable of when put in the right situation.  Also, his voice gets really creepy there at the end.  Love it!

Devil, Devil (Prelude: Princess Of Darkness) – This is another ‘kiss mine’ song that references some of the legendary tunes from the legendary artists like He Stopped Loving Her Today and Sunday Morning Comin’ Down.  The prelude is definitely different and I wouldn’t listen to it if you have young children around.  I love the song but it’s one that I really don’t know what exactly it’s about.  The prelude suggests one topic while the song itself is another.  I’m confused.

Give Me Back My Hometown – When I first heard this song I thought it was about a girl who had left him, but then I saw the video and I thought maybe his love had died.  Now listening to the rest of the album, I think the song is more about the decay of society and wanting the old days back.  I think it speaks to spikes in drug use and crime with the lyric:

you can have my grandma’s locket, the knife out of my grandpa’s pocket, my state champion jacket.

Those are all things and at the end of the day all he really wants is his hometown back.  I could be way off but regardless the song is awesome.

The Joint – This is another one that kind of made me chuckle.  It is, of course, a play on words and it’s the song of a woman scorned from a man’s perspective.  The woman has to be a character right out of a Miranda Lambert song.  It’s a great ending to the album.

I had some expectations for this album and it’s very different than what I thought it would be.  In a bad way?  Not at all.  I think this album has a good mixture of songs and there is a common theme.  Supposedly one should listen to the songs in album order because it tells a story.  I’ve gotten parts of it but not the entire thing.  That will come with time and I love that there is an element of suspense to this story.

This album isn’t for everybody. I think you have to really like Eric Church and love the fact that he’s challenging himself to try something new.  If you’re in to today’s “pop” country, you may not like it.  If you like traditional sounding country, you may not like it.  If you like music that is reminiscent, nostalgic and has some attitude, I would highly recommend you go pick up a copy of The Outsiders.

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