Eric Church has come a long way since his days with the Mountain Boys.
Since debuting solo in 2006, Church has racked up platinum albums, sold out tours and an enviable collection of hits, all while breathing new life into the outlaw country movement with his signature style, dedicated craft and an ever present sense of humor.
Here, Holler ranks The Chief’s albums in order of greatness. Get a drink in your hand and delve in.
On his sophomore outing, Church experimented with his sound to make the grit of his sound more accessible to the mainstream.
It resulted in the Chief garnering his first Top 10 hit with the sweeping, mid-tempo ballad ‘Love Your Love the Most’.
However, the true standout of this collection remains ‘Smoke a Little Smoke’, a song that laid the foundation for the stripped-back approach and alternative lyrical structure of countless future hits.
With stellar tracks like the rollicking ‘Pledge Allegiance to the Hag’ and the Mellencamp meets Springsteen vibe of ‘Two Pink Lines’, Church's debut not only launched him onto the scene, but foreshadowed all the success to come.
Don’t believe me? Go ahead and re-listen to ‘These Boots’ and try not to be floored by his undeniable storytelling talent.
A complete departure from the bombastic nature of The Outsiders, this collection gave deserved notice to Church’s musical range by slowing things down enough to reflect about the man behind the mythical Ray Bans.
A surprise album long before the trend became commonplace, the title track serves as a reminder of his journey and his willingness to allow fans along for the ride of his own self discovery.
Nearly an hour of glorious outlaw anthems that range from stadium screamers to tears-in-beer weepers.
While the record is a curated list designed to be listened to in sequence as a traditional album, there are hits galore here. But, the record belongs to the refreshingly honest ‘A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young', one of the most tender love songs of The Chief's career.
A poignant collection that represented the range of emotions Church felt after the Las Vegas shootings in 2017.
While certainly a more subdued sound, Church never completely lets go of the rock lightning rod. While the building fury of ‘The Snake’ sets the tone, it's the title track that gives glory to living a full life, regardless of external limitations.
Another downright defiant transition for Church and an absolute tour de force.
His first No.1 album redefined the scope of his career, producing everything from the working class anthem ‘Drink In My Hand’ to the slithering sexuality of ‘Creepin’.
Chief provided the diversity that was desperately needed on country radio at the time, delivering rock-leaning arrangements and alternative production choices that connected with listeners of all ages.
A triple album. Such a highly ambitious project would be an identifiable risk for any artist, but few have the painstaking follow through of Church.
A silver lining blessing of the pandemic, Church hid away in the mountains with his trusted collaborators to write and record a song a day. The bone-chilling anger of ‘Stick That In Your Country Song’ matches the rebellious romance of ‘Hell of a View’, all of which is a testament to Church's dedicated creative approach.
From start to finish, it's a true country masterpiece.
Subscribe and listen to Holler's Best Eric Church Songs list below:
For more on Eric Church, see below:
Photography by Laura Ord.