A Powerful, Tightly Wrapped and Deeply Personal Set of Songs.
It’s not as if I don’t like the ‘big hitters’ in Nashville; I’ve always had a soft spot for Tim McGraw and Toby Keith, but the likes of Eric Church should normally be out of my league here at RMHQ so this album more than piqued my interest.
The title track Mr. Misunderstood opens proceedings and Church’s voice immediately struck me as being ‘authentic’ in a way these act are normally criticised by us Music Snobs. He sounds like he ‘means it’ as he talks about himself in the third person as an ‘outsider’ in his youth; not just from the other Country singers on the circuit but everyone else too. Sadly; this song more than resonated with my own feelings at the moment.
This is the type of song Hank and Cash would both have appreciated.
Country Music comes in many flavours these days, and the modern ‘Rock’ sound doesn’t appeal to everyone (personally I don’t like Bluegrass!) so on principal many readers will purposely pass this album by; but if they do they will miss some great stories like Knives of New Orleans and especially the razor sharp Record Year; which are both ‘Pure Country’ in every groove and note.
I’d played the album all afternoon and as soon as Mrs Magpie arrived home from work, she had hardly taken her coat off when I was insisting she sat down to hear the closing track Three Year Old! Again; this won’t appeal to the Cool Kids out there; but here at RMHQ we do like sad, winsome song; the type Country Music does better than anything else and this song is a perfect example.
Yet again; I’ve unearthed an album that doesn’t have a bad track on it; but there are two that still manage to stand tall.
Mixed Drinks and Feelings is a sad, slow burner based around a tinkling piano, with a story that will will make you tilt your head closer to the speakers to make sure you don’t miss a note or a word; and when Susan Tedeschi takes the lead on a couple of verses your spine will actually tingle like mine did.
The other is the atmospheric Chattanooga Lucy, a tightly wrapped slice of Southern Country Rock that really took me by surprise . Especially the duetting and harmonies with Joanna Cotton, which conjures up memories of Kris n Rita many years ago.
My copy of Mr Misunderstood comes with a few ‘added extras’ namely live versions of Chattanooga Lucy and Knives of New Orleans but the inclusion of and reaction to Church’s staggeringly raw version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah is worth the entrance fee alone.
While the production here can be a touch too polished for my own liking; there’s an honesty to the lyrics and Eric Church’s way with a guitar that could and should give him the appreciation he deserves from across the great Country divide.
Released March 10th 2017