Eric Church is one of country music’s most popular artists, but no one saw this coming. Late last night, Church released his newest single, “Mr. Misunderstood”, during this year’s Country Music Awards. The surprise new song would later be accompanied by the release of his newest album by the same name. Mr. Misunderstood, according to Church, was produced this past summer over a three week span. Prior to its release, there were rumors that close friends and select media had been receiving vinyl copies of the “secret” album on Tuesday, but no one expected an unadvertised release this soon.
The production quality of Church’s fifth studio album isn’t nearly as comprehensive as that of The Outsiders, but this aspect only adds to its appeal as all ten tracks are carried by authentic instrumentals driven by guitar and piano and Church’s soulful, blues inspired voice. The lighter, more personal tone of Mr. Misunderstood compared to the rather dark Outsiders is refreshing and will undoubtedly draw comparisons to his earlier work on the EP Caldwell Country.
The title track of the album is its most notable. It’s no secret that Church holds the work of Bruce Springsteen in high regard. Listeners will immediately listen to “Mr. Misunderstood”, a personal story detailing Church’s journey from a childhood outsider to country superstar, and feel Church’s inner Springsteen. As a New Jersey native myself, this homage to “The Boss” is very much appreciated.
Additional noteworthy tracks include “Knives of New Orleans”, “Mistress Named Music”, and “Three Year Old”. In “Three Year Old”, a particularly moving track devoted to his son who inspired the album, Church reveals the lessons he has learned as a father.
Overall, Mr. Misunderstood is another phenomenal chapter in the career of Eric Church. Church holds true to his authentic style, beautifully blurring the lines between country and rock. The release of Mr. Misunderstood continues an exciting week for country music as the highly anticipated new albums of Tim McGraw and the Josh Abbott Band are set to be released on November 6th.