Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Eric Church

  • Sinners Like Me [Capitol, 2006] ***
  • Carolina [Capitol, 2009] *
  • Chief [EMI, 2011] A-
  • Mr. Misunderstood [EMI Nashville, 2015] ***
  • Desperate Man [EMI Nashville, 2018] **

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Sinners Like Me [Capitol, 2006]
Master craftsman of high good-old-boy convention ("Before She Does," "What I Almost Was"). ***

Carolina [Capitol, 2009]
Branching out, muscling up, writing from the heart, and otherwise diluting the formal command that just barely salvages this follow-up ("Where She Told Me to Go," "Those I've Loved"). *

Chief [EMI, 2011]
I know the idea is that the studly barfly who kicks the album off grows up as it progresses, but that doesn't help me feel the big dog who wants to beat up my buddy in "Keep On," or convince me that the morning-after sex of the last verse isn't a literary lie. Still, grow up he does. Church has always known how to write, and he's blowing here--check how the reworked title of "Homeboy" obliterates one's faint reservations about its moralism, or for that matter how the reworked title of "Keep On" mans up that sex scene. Jack Daniels (apostrophe omitted) and Springsteen (teen-sex soundtrack) are also title-cited, as is Jesus, twice--as a woman he doesn't deserve and a Johnny Cash imitator country music could use. Be nice if this bright, basically decent guy was him. A-

Mr. Misunderstood [EMI Nashville, 2015]
He should never try to belt a lyric out of the park again ("Kill a Word," "Mr. Misunderstood") ***

Desperate Man [EMI Nashville, 2018]
Subtler than Keith Urban, manlier than Brad Paisley, Church continues to sculpt his own postmacho niche somewhere to the left of the rip-roaring guyville of rockin' Nashville bros ("Hippie Radio," "Snake") **