“Stick That in Your Country Song”
Written by Jeffrey Steele and Davis Naish
I must admit, upon seeing that Eric Church’s new single was titled “Stick That in Your Country Song,” my expectations were low. Was he really going to dabble in the never-ending authenticity argument within the country music genre now, of all times – especially when his track record of songs like that is shoddy, at best?
Well, no. The wonderful part of Eric Church’s artistic evolution is that he’s become a tempered artist over the years, channeling the inner music-loving nerd within him on 2015’s Mr. Misunderstood while delivering an exhaustive set of tunes on 2018’s Desperate Man. And it’s worth noting that, on the latter album, Church’s main inspiration behind the project stemmed from his frustrations and inability to make sense of the world around him. He was quite literally desperate to find the right words to say.
Well, he must have found them somewhere between then and now, because “Stick That in Your Country Song” is a venomous track aimed at the right people overall. In past reviews here, I’ve noted country music’s inability to address social issues this year, which is ironic for a genre that claims to speak to the “real world.” It seems artists would rather resurrect the worst elements of bro-country for nihilistic party songs because, screw it, why not.
Perhaps it’s doubly ironic, then, that Church – an artist who further drifts away from country music himself with every release into Americana-inspired blues-rock – is the one to take the establishment down a peg.
Granted, the song isn’t quite addressing specific social movements in its own right – especially current ones. Even the verse about an overworked teacher only vaguely alludes to gun violence and mass school shootings. But when there’s so many issues to address at any one possible point in time anyway, the haphazard lyrical execution manages to work for this track. Say something – anything is the basic message.
And it’s a message that’s further bolstered by the music surrounding it, which is where these types of protest songs often fail to deliver. A low-simmering acoustic number evolves into a hard rock anthem that features Church’s angriest vocal delivery, well, ever, creating a righteously primal feeling overall.
Again, I wish the song pushed harder with its examples for a tighter focus, but it’s a very welcome return to form for Church.