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CD Review: Eric Church

Chief (Capitol)

Eric Church's pleasures are simple and his passions predictable, but that's no complaint. The North Carolina native plays country music hopped up on loud guitars, blue-collar attitude, and sharp wit. He's the rare Nashville singer-songwriter who does his outlaw antecedents proud. He laments the one that got away with "She got the rock and I'm getting stoned." Church may play the hick, but he waxes nostalgic about glory days and slips in pop references. While there are some modest missteps — the ballad "Like Jesus Does" is undercooked, and his desire for a "Country Music Jesus" is overdone — Chief's 11 tracks reveal insight into characters and boast keen but understated wordplay. Church may not write standout singles, but the working anthem "Drink in My Hand" and the honky-tonkin' "Jack Daniels" are darn good songs. — Chris Parker

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