Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
After stepping on to the scene nearly three years ago with hits like How Bout You,
and Guys Like Me,
, Eric Church returns with a sophomore album that tries hard to mine the same sounds. He combines that rough around the edges, good ol' boy attitude on some songs with a more sensitive, straight-forward approach on others. And the good thing is that he's equally impressive with both on most of the 12 songs.
Church starts with a couple of outlaw-esque rockers, the rollicking Ain't Killed Me Yet and Lotta Boot Left To Fill, , which criticizes those trying to follow in legendary footsteps. The most memorable line of the album might come from that song - "You sing about Johnny Cash...the Man In Black would have whipped your ass."
But Church shows his sensitive side on tunes like the title track - an ode to his home state of North Carolina, the first single Love Your Love The Most, - where he employs folksy, homespun lyrics like "I'm a fan of Faulkner books and anything my mama cooks."
Longer Gone and Smoke A Little Smoke are stark reminders that Church is making a valiant attempt to rekindle the outlaw movement. Although he may never do it sound-wise, he gets an A for lyrical effort.
But there's one song that stands out for its lyrical content, the ballad Those I've Loved, in which Church sings, "Fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, friends and long lost lovers. I wouldn't be who I am today if not for those I've loved along the way." The album's final track provides a universal theme that nearly every listener can relate to and enjoy.