Whether you love, hate, like or dislike Eric Church, it’s hard not to see him as one of country music’s most interesting figures right now.
Thankfully, that comment doesn’t even just extend toward the external comments he makes in the rare interviews he gives. His music speaks for itself. 2015’s Mr. Misunderstood was one of his best efforts yet, and with a new album set to be released on Oct. 5, once again it’s curious to see where he’s going to take his music.
I’ve been scratching my head as to what to make of the lead single, “Desperate Man” ever since it came out. On one hand it’s different, unique and certainly something country radio could use more of (variety that is), but on the other hand this feels like it could have been so much more.
I don’t even know where to begin with the production on this track. Blues, rock, blues-rock, disco, R&B, soul … this song could be described in a multitude of ways, but ultimately the best way just seems like a melting pot of the aforementioned genres. It’s funky, and yet the bongos combined with the spacious electric guitar (which honestly feels a little too buried in the mix) give off an upbeat vibe, with a killer groove that can’t be denied.
That’s where the “Chattanooga Lucy” references have been coming in (for reference, “Lucy” was an album track off of 2015’s Mr. Misunderstood). Whereas I loved that song, here it just feels like a bit of a mess that doesn’t know what it wants to be. “Lucy” worked for adding gothic imagery to a song that was seeped in darker, almost menacing tones.
That brings us to the song’s main crutch – the songwriting. You ultimately get the point. He’s a desperate man … for some reason. There’s not much of a story here. Heck, the only actual reasons given to why he’s this way are either wrapped up in metaphors or are just references to ’80s classic rock. Plus, as I mentioned before, the upbeat mix doesn’t really pair well with lyrical content that speaks of essentially going crazy looking for a solution to whatever problem the character in this song has. For a song written with Ray Wylie Hubbard, it just feels lightweight.
Of course, lightweight is ultimately this song’s goal, and on that end, I guess Church succeeds. The “boo-boos” must be a “love it or hate it” element of the track, because they feel tacked on and annoying rather than helpful. Sure, they’re catchy, but it’s also the easiest way to make a song catchy.
Still, Church’s performance is at least another highlight of this track. What he lacks in pure power he more than makes up for in passion, and while we don’t really know what all the commotion is about, he’s convincing in his role to find his solution.
Ultimately, “Desperate Man” is far from my favorite Church song, but at the very least it shows him continuing to just do whatever the heck he pleases and turn the music industry on its head. If nothing else, call it winning track for that at least.
Songwriters: Eric Church, Ray Wylie Hubbard