At a time when country music was sliding deeper and deeper into a soulless pop rut, Capitol Records Nashville took a chance on North Carolina native Eric Church and his hard-edged music. With one foot planted firmly in the Haggard tradition and the other in the outlaw style of Waylon and Hank Jr., Church stormed onto the charts with his debut album, Sinners Like Me. He grew up listening to the old-school sounds of the Hag and his outlaw brethren, but he also had one
ear tuned to the rock & roll sounds rumbling from the other side of the tracks. Sinners Like Me is a cool country-rock hybrid that is far removed from the lameness that is usually associated with the 21st century country music scene. The boot stomping grit of "Before She Does," an electric guitar steeped number that has Church wailing that Jesus will be back before the girl who left him high and dry will, sets the tone for the entire disc. Raw and real pretty much sums up the 11-track collection. One minute Church is reflecting on an old pair of boots that have seen him through many hard times on the mandolin smoked "These Boots," the next he's slipping into the skin of a death row inmate in his final moments on the lump-in-the-throat "Lightning." If you look up the word "authentic" in the dictionary, you just might see a picture of Eric Church.