Album Reviews | Eric Church – Mr. Misunderstood (2015)

Pain KillerThe chances of me eventually becoming a country music expert are certainly slim to none, but I am enjoying becoming acquainted with some of the best of what the genre’s contemporary artists have to offer. For some reason, I have always found male country singers less than pleasing to the ear, so it’s not a coincidence all of the country albums I have reviewed since I started writing reviews in 2013 have primarily featured female singers. (Interestingly, female country artists are currently struggling to find space on country station airwaves at the moment, so I appear to be in the minority in this respect.) I am a huge Kacey Musgraves supporter and I really like the three ladies in the Pistol AnniesMiranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley — and support them as well. I even really liked Pain Killer by Little Big Town — a foursome consisting of two women and two men, all of whom sing — in 2014.

ChiefAs for Eric Church, I know almost nothing about him (except that he’s a country music name). Well, a little digging into his discography on Wikipedia reveals two of his albums — 2011‘s Chief and 2014’s The Outsiders — have gone platinum and he has had an impressive 14 consecutive singles land on the Billboard Hot 100. In other words, this guy isn’t just a country music name, he’s a big country music name — and until now, one of my blind spots. And to be perfectly honest, I probably would never have given Mr. Misunderstood a listen if AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine hadn’t picked it as his second favorite album of 2015. My take is that it’s a very good record, with good songs, playing, and production. It’s not quite great, but two tracks — “Chattanooga Lucy” and especially “Round Here Buzz” — are absolutely killer, and the album as a whole is a lot of fun, with plenty of personality.

Mr. Misunderstood is a fine album by country veteran Eric Church, with a wide variety of quality tracks that should appeal to both country connoisseurs and those who don't normally associate themselves with Middle American culture.
  • Very pleasurable; this will appeal to non-country fans
  • Earthy, rootsy feel thanks to a production style that doesn't overwhelm the material
  • The songs are neatly arranged and are the work of a veteran craftsman
  • Two songs ("Chattanooga Lucy" and "Round Here Buzz") are so good it makes you wish the other eight were at that level
  • The first half of the album is stronger than the second

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