Eric Church is at it again, releasing another great single to radio. His latest hit is “Record Year”, a well written sad song about the healing power of music. When Eric Church surprised everyone with an unannounced album drop last fall, many great songs were included. Right off the bat, this was the one I wanted to see released as a single. It has the “it factor”. “Record Year” continues Eric Church’s string of great songs and builds on his already impressive resume.
Lyrically, “Record Year” is second to none. The song tells the tale of a man getting lost in old records as a way to ease the pain of losing a lover. The song takes through a journey and hits on many gems of the music world, including George Jones, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, and Waylon Jennings. The song also features numerous plays on words. Now, often a play on words sounds clever upon first listen and annoying by the time the song ends its chart run. Eric did a good job on “Record Year” of writing in quips that fit the mood of the song and age well. My favorite line being “Your leaving left me goin’ crazy, I’m counting on a needle to save me… I drop it in the groove and we go round and round and down in a spiral”. That’s just great writing. The somber tone of the song combined with the intensity of Church’s vocals make this a well written tune all the way around.
Musically, this song is pretty great as well. The verses come in at a soft level and then the chorus hammers in hard. The melancholy sound of the guitars fit in perfectly with the mood of the song. The only issue I take with it is the use of the electronic drum machines. This sound has been permeating country music for the past few years and it is a trend I can’t wait to see fade out. In this case, the song is strong enough to overcome this misstep. A song with a weaker melody or generic lyrics would be cast over the edge with an electronic beat. All in all, this is a minor hiccup on a fantastic song. It isn’t traditional country, but it is a healthy mix of country and rock that fits well within today’s parameters of the genre.
As stated in my review, Mr. Misunderstood was a fantastic album and the best surprise of 2015. The whole project was full of great songs, and “Record Year” may have been the best of them. Eric tried maybe a little too hard to be creative and unique with The Outsiders, but he is back in his wheelhouse now where he is strongest. “Record Year” will probably be up for some well-deserved hardware come the CMA Awards in November and should find itself at the top of the charts in no time. Good job, Chief!