The Outsiders represents an audacious quantum leap for Eric Church. The aggressive set, which consists almost entirely of Church s compositions or co-compositions, finds the iconoclastic singer-songwriter guitarist covering a dizzying amount of musical and lyrical ground, taking advantage of a wide range of sonic options to construct an adventurous, consistently thrilling ride. The result is Church's most revealing, personally-charged statement yet and one that challenges many of the accepted rules of contemporary country music.
With The Outsiders Church channels the same rebellious spirit that's always been his trademark and with his longstanding live band providing forceful, distinctive backup Church delivers some of his most compelling performances to date.
The Outsiders kicks off in style with the title track, an urgent declaration of purpose that demonstrates theartist's sharper-than-ever songwriting skills, while underlining his deep and enduring relationship with his audience. That anthemic opener is answered by the spare, edgy solo performance "A Man Who Was Gonna DieYoung," one of several tracks that emphasize Church's raw, emotionally expressive guitar work.That yin/yang balance established by those two tracks sets the anything-goes tone for an unpredictable sonic excursion that encompasses such far-ranging creations as the rollicking, tongue-in-cheek "Cold One," the groove-intensive epics "Roller Coaster Ride" and "Broke Record," the sensitive, bittersweet "Talladega" and"Give Me Back My Hometown," the organ-driven classic soul ballad "Like A Wrecking Ball," the rowdy,
swaggering "That's Damn Rock & Roll" and the slyly evocative story-song "The Joint." Those tunes maintain the combination of emotional insight and hard-headed badass attitude that's long been a hallmark of Church's work. Perhaps the album's most daring move is a hauntingly resonant trilogy that's comprised of the tensely introspective "Dark Side," the vivid Shel Silverstein-penned fable "The Devil and Billy Markham" (the album's sole outside composition) and the menacing "Devil, Devil."