John Peets
Mikael Wood
July 20, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Chief

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Eric Church
music label
82546
genre
Country

We gave it a B

This midlevel country dude, one of Nashville’s most detail-oriented songwriters, peppers his third album, Chief, with so many proper nouns — Waylon and Springsteen, Jack Daniel’s and Jesus — that it’s sometimes hard to hear ?Eric Church through all the neo-outlaw hero worship. Yet when he clears out some room for himself, as on the beautifully bleary ”Hungover & Hard Up,” the honesty of his confessions can sear: ”The hurt keeps ?calling me,” he sings over warm Muscle Shoals-style guitar. ”Come on out — we got you surrounded.” B

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