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Eric Church "Carolina" Liberty Records

I’ll admit to being a casual fan of Church. “Guys Like Me” had landed a spot within my collection before I previewed Carolina, so I came into the new album with curiosity piqued, but without much in the way of expectations, good or bad. When I struck up the first song, “Ain’t Killed Me Yet” I was blown away. I love the way his voice carries, the arrangement, the lyrics, the whole bit. It’s freewheeling, forward and fun, and I quickly realized I had stumbled upon greatness.

The ballads on this album really spoke to me. The lyrics are beautifully knitted together and carried out with charm and style. One absolute must hear is “Those I’ve Loved.” Gorgeously simple and poignant, it’s likely to be a song that everyone will feel. I’m also a big fan of Tracy Lawrence and Chris Cagle, and Church has a similar tone with an aw shucks country boy vibe thrown in for good measure. “Love Your Love the Most” is also a contender for the best stuff off his new album. It’s pretty and smart with an honest small town feel. Think of “Chicken Fried” as a love song…or something like that.

Title track “Carolina” is a pulsing, rhythmic tale I can listen to over and over and love more and more. Overall, it’s got a lot to offer – some of the more upbeat guy’s guy music like “Young and Wild” is thrown in there too, lest you think this is some sort of chick disc. He’s definitely one of my dark horse picks to be in contention for some serious air time in ’09. I’m excited to have been privy to the next step for this talented artist, as he deserves a world of credit for a job well done.

[rating:4]

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