REVIEWED BY RALPH NOVAK
The most telling song on Eric Church's appealing debut is "I Pledge Allegiance to the Hag," a tribute to Merle Haggard so ingratiating that the country great himself shows up to sing along. Church, a 28-year-old North Carolinian, doesn't sound much like Haggard—there's only one voice that mellow and true—but he's got a similar attitude: unapologetically masculine, unapologetically romantic and unapologetically Christian. Not merely hitting the notes, Church invests his lyrics with conviction, whether kicking up his heels ("Guys Like Me"), waxing affectionate ("How 'Bout You?") or reflecting on his transgressions ("Sinners Like Me").
DOWNLOAD THIS: "I Pledge Allegiance to the Hag"