In his fifth studio album Mr. Misunderstood, Eric Church creates a personal atmosphere throughout the album, one that feels extra genuine in the midst of a swarm of pop-country party tunes that encompass the country music industry.

Fans of Eric Church received a pleasant surprise last week in the form of a new album released without warning. Members of Eric Church’s fan club — the Church Choir — were given first dibs on the performer’s fifth studio album, Mr. Misunderstood, which features 10 new tracks.

The album, which swings from heartfelt melodies to boot stomping ballads seamlessly, is now available on iTunes but not on streaming platforms such as Spotify.

True to the persona he created in his previous album Outsider, Church continues to shy away from Bro-country and instead leans more towards rock ‘n’ roll for inspiration, avoiding pop-heavy tunes. Whether this is a country or a rock album will be debated by listeners, but there is no question that it’s genuine Church.  

In the past, he has expressed his admiration for Bruce Springsteen, whose influence is clearly present in some of the tracks including “Mr. Misunderstood,” the album’s title track and debut single. The upbeat song is a testament to those who shun the Top 40 for vinyl music of days gone by.

However, when compared to other personal songs on the album, “Mr. Misunderstood” falls short in keeping the listener interested. While catchy, it doesn’t compare lyrically to other tracks like “Kill a Word” or “Three Year Old.”

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“Kill a Word” is a sincere description of what Church would care to do to the hateful words people use on each other and is a testament to how those words affect people. He sings about “hanging hate” and “choking lonely out” with his bare hands, using brutal examples that stem from the frustration that we’ve all felt at the hands of these words.

Proving wisdom doesn’t walk hand-in-hand with age, “Three Year Old” offers sound advice Church has gathered from his son over the years. We hear tips such as “use all the crayon color that you’ve got,” “walking barefoot in the mud will knock the rust right off your soul” and other resonating guidelines. His boy’s advice is as true as it is simple, and reminds you what it’s like to see the world from a toddler’s eyes.

Church kicks things up with the barn burner “Chattanooga Lucy” and the outlaw number “Knives of New Orleans.” Aside from these, the album mostly keeps to steady beats as opposed to fast-paced tracks.

A few songs, like “Record Year” and “Mixed Drinks about Feelings,” are the “she’s gone” songs we expect from country singers, but Church makes sure to keep things interesting. If you’re looking for songs to drink and think along to, these are it.

One thing you won’t find on the album is a song to pregame to. No sign of a party anthem is in sight. Instead, Church strives to show us a meaningful side that was always present but never front and center. Gray hairs could be seen in Church’s beard at the 2015 CMA Awards, but that’s not the only sign of maturity we’ve seen from him since last week.