Country star and reigning CMA Entertainer of The Year Eric Church has today released his latest album ‘Soul’.
Soul is the third part of a three-part project titled ‘Heart & Soul’. The first instalment ‘Heart’ was released last Friday (April 16) while the second part ‘&’ was release on Tuesday exclusive to members of the Church Choir, Church’s fan club.
Despite career milestones that include 10 chart-topping singles, five Platinum-selling albums, seven ACM Awards, four CMA trophies and 10 GRAMMY nominations, Church still came out of his last album cycle feeling the need to push himself further. Recognizing the level of comfort achieved by recording six highly successful projects with the same team and overall process, he craved the tension and vulnerability that inspires boundless creativity. In his typical fashion, the man Stereogum celebrates as “our greatest working rock star” and Esquire names “one of the most singular working artists in any genre” took that desire to the extreme.
Together with producer Jay Joyce, Church headed to the mountain town of Banner Elk, N.C., where they set up a makeshift recording studio in a restaurant that had closed its doors for the winter. They moved the tables out of the dining room. They turned the basement into a drum booth. They placed microphones around the premises to capture the unique acoustics of the restaurant’s barn wood interior. And then, as the weather outside turned frigid, they got to work, bringing rotating groups of songwriters and instrumentalists to the compound every few days.
“There was an interchangeable quality that felt so unique,” Church says of the recording process. “We were eating together, living together, and acting like a big family up there in the mountains. When we’d record, it didn’t matter if you were one of the writers or one of the players. It really came down to everyone wanting the song to be born – for the song to come alive – and it was just a matter of who could make it come alive. If you could do that, then you’d be in the studio making it happen. And I’ve never seen that happen before. I’ve never even heard of that happening.”
The final result of that inclusive process is a three-part, 24-song collection from the man Stereogum praises as “the most consistently interesting star in the Nashville ecosystem” which features an elite list of songwriters who joined the secluded marathon writing and recording sessions. Part of the recording process for the project anchored solely by Church, with no features, were his longtime producer Jay Joyce and backing vocalist Joanna Cotten, as well as his touring band.