Chief

"Drink in My Hand." "Hungover & Hard Up." "Jack Daniels." The titles tell the story on Eric Church's third album: This is country music in the rough 'n' tumble honky-tonk tradition. Church, from North Carolina, is one of Nashville's sharpest young songwriters, and on Chief the rock guitars and twangy blues are set against big hooks and finely grained storytelling. The country hit "Homeboy" is the tale of a small-town-boy-turned-wanna-be-hip-hop-thug. In "Springsteen," the sound of Bruce songs teleports Church back to teenage romance: "Somewhere between that setting sun, 'I'm on Fire' and 'Born to Run'/You looked at me and I was done but we were just getting started."

Listen to "Homeboy":

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From The Archives Issue 1136: August 4, 2011