Eric Church sings the first four lines of the first song as if he’s been embodied by Toby Keith, talking about the Middle East, gas, and mama’s apple pie. But fortunately, “Before She Does” comes off much better and less redneck than anything Mr. Keith has done recently. Sounding like a cross between Dierks Bentley and Keith Urban, the ditty finds its footing during the second verse. Meanwhile, “Sinners Like Me” is a slower, mellower track that would fit well on a Tim McGraw album. The difference being Church has written all of this material with some help, even the Dierks-ish “How ‘Bout You” that sounds eerily like “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do”. Church is definitely new country, although the songs here work quite well, especially the pretty, radio-friendly “What I Almost Was” and the somewhat bombastic “Guys Like Me”. Perhaps the highlight here is the bouncy “Pledge Allegiance to the Hag” that has Merle Haggard making a guest appearance. Another keeper is “Two Pink Lines” that has a roots-pop Mellencamp feel to it.
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// Notes from the Road
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