Wednesday’s CMA Awards weren’t the only big news in country music. That same day Eric Church released his surprise fifth album, Mr. Misunderstood, first to the members of his Church Choir fan club and then to iTunes. The bare-bones production, helmed by The Outsiders producer Jay Joyce, features 10 songs, with a killer title track that kicks off as a solo number. A moody cross between prime John Prine and Nebraska-era Springsteen, Church name-checks Ray Wylie Hubbard and Elvis Costello, among others. Then, at around the minute-and-a-half mark, the “Homeboy” singer’s band joins in and the song’s tempo builds.
Church premiered the song on the CMAs, but now an official video for the track has also been released. Opening with Church playing to a somber student in a tiny gray classroom, the video picks up speed with the song, and as the pace quickens, the world opens up for the kid. Ultimately, he becomes a part of the band, singing along to what will likely be remembered as one of the catchiest songs — and sweetest surprises — of late 2015.