Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Eric Church – Desperate Man

And we arrive finally in America, several decades ago…


Julian Axelrod: Song of the year! If you’re a movie trailer editor who can’t afford the rights to “Sympathy for the Devil.”

Thomas Inskeep: Mick and Keith deserve a co-writing credit on this, because you can’t tell me that “Sympathy for the Devil” isn’t in this song’s DNA. So is a healthy helping of boogie-ing ’70s southern rock (think less Skynyrd and more Marshall Tucker). Both influences make perfect sense coming from Church, who increasingly feels like the musical polyglot of the late ’10s/early ’20s (to come) that Hank Williams, Jr. was of the ’80s. The key is the boogie, the chugga-chugga-chug, and this has that in spades, perfect for Church to yowl over. 

Alex Clifton: I’m always pleased when country music sounds like Older Country rather than the radio-friendly bro-twaddle we normally get. There are only so many songs from smug men about lying in the back of a flatbed truck while drinking cheap beer and dancing on a summer night that I can take (and that number is basically already zero). Luckily, Church is a charismatic vocalist whose inflections feel like they belong to a different era, and “Desperate Man” injected a dose of much-needed energy into my day with nary a truck in sight.

Katherine St Asaph: As if he heard one too many big country choruses and said, “You want Southern rock? I’ll show you some goddamn Southern rock.” And he did! And the result is so anachronistic in 2018 that I have no idea who this is for — and whoever it’s for, I can’t imagine what they’d make of those perky doot-doos.

Ryo Miyauchi: Eric Church sings about being cornered, out of options in every conceivable way, but the hook comes through too clean, nowhere near as hungry as I would like. He relies upon hyperbole and a little bit of anti-gypsy sentiment to give the song attitude, but it’s not so much stooping low than it is going for the easy way out.

Maxwell Cavaseno: Eric Church remains a man who loves to see-saw between the arrogant fogeyism of your Stapletons and not-quite-Rhettian wild-card maneuvers, to seem like an eccentric who wants “more” for country, but without doing too much to get ahead of himself. He’s at his most boring basic on “Desperate Man,” its honky soulfulness delivered as dutifully stiff and rootsy as can be. There’s desperation for sure, in just how much he can avoid doing anything people might find distasteful.

Alfred Soto: Spare, rangy, soaked in organ and gypsies and here-she-comes, “Desperate Man” is likable despite its distillation of several strands of Southern rock. Church’s vocal approach — an epicene whine that’s his idea of “desperate” — works too. If I hear it on WKIS I won’t change the station, but I wouldn’t seek it out. 

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2 Responses to “Eric Church – Desperate Man”

  1. Funny — all the things Max lists as disparagement are what fascinate me about Eric Church, the best of the male country stars.

  2. NGL, it took every fiber in my being to be an adult and not rag on him again just for the insult to my ‘high-standards’ of naming an album “Chief”.

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