Eric Church, "Caught in the Act" (EMI Nashville)
On the heels of Eric Church's first million-selling album, "Chief," and after achieving his first pair of No. 1 hits in the last two years, the country music rebel takes the unusual step of releasing a 17-song concert album, "Caught in the Act." The move points out that Church is selling out arenas not on the number of top hits he has, but on his reputation as a macho guy who likes to party -- and put on an exciting live show.
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"I like my country rocking," Church sings in "How 'Bout You?" as Jeff Cease's inventive hard-rock guitar solo ricochets off the pounding drums of bandmate Craig Wright. Producer Jay Joyce pushes Church's voice up in the mix, and the singer's interaction with the crowd is emphasized throughout.
Church constantly encourages his rowdy audience, exhorting them to bellow the chorus of "Drink in My Hand" and "Jack Daniels." Even when he plays a solo acoustic version of "Sinners Like Me," he tells everyone, "It's just going to be us, so sing loud."
Altogether, "Caught in the Act" presents a much more engaging showcase for Church's songs than a dry collection of top hits would have.