Eric Church – “Smoke a Little Smoke”
I have a confession to make, although my admission has less to do with the Catholic Church and more to do with a pseudo-rocking country singer of a similar name: Eric Church’s latest single “Smoke a Little Smoke” has been my go-to guilty pleasure since his album Carolina was released more than a year ago.
That guilt stems from the young country star’s mostly contrived efforts at bucking the mainstream while simultaneously banking on the largely unearned title of this generation’s version of a pioneering country-rock original. In the words of Waylon Jennings himself, this outlaw bit’s done got out of hand.
“Smoke a Little Smoke,” however, puts Church’s bravado posturing to good use. The song’s snakelike opening guitar chords morph into a driving drum beat before culminating into a big ball of heart-thumping rhythms, resulting in a progressive mix of rock, funk and blues that still falls under the modern label of country music.
Combined with the cacophony of drums, electric guitar and voice loops, lyrics such as “ Kick back, gives the blues a spin/Break out the wine, forget again/Dig down deep, find my stash/Light it up, memory crash” mimic that pleasingly mind-numbing, out-of-body experience only available through prime spots next to rock concert speakers and certain other endorphin-boosting activities.
The appeal of “Smoke a Little Smoke,” which reportedly makes a routinely late appearance in Church’s concert set list because of its near-riot inducing power over the singer’s rabid fan base, sits squarely in the tune’s total embodiment of its overall sentiment. Church offers no apologies in the form of superfluous fiddle or steel riffs, and makes no attempts to temper the song’s spot-on snapshot of trying to lose one’s self – musically or otherwise – in an effort to awkwardly make the project “country.”
Despite country radio’s current propensity for rock influences, “Smoke A Little Smoke” stands out with a blend of tempos and interesting twists and turns. Does Church deserve comparisons to Jennings and the late legend’s “outlaw” friends? Not by a long shot, or at least not yet. However, when the singer trades in impersonation for experimentation, he forges a unique path that sets him apart from his mainstream peers.
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