Eric Church shows a different side with 'Like a Wrecking Ball'

Some of country star Eric Church's biggest hits have been aggressive songs that blurred the lines between rock and country. A prime example was the title track from his most recent album, The Outsiders, which actually included hints of heavy metal throughout.

But Church's latest, “Like a Wrecking Ball,” is a straightforward ballad built around a simple pacing drum beat with sparse guitar notes between lines. An old-school organ appears during the chorus as Church's effortless vocals are treated with an echo effect. The track sits at No. 23 and rising on this week's Hot Country Songs chart, where it has become the fifth hit from Church's current album.

Despite its quiet tone, “Like a Wrecking Ball” contains aggressive lyrics. Church has admitted the song is a simple ode to sex, and it's easy to hear that in lyrics like, “I'm gonna find out what that house is made of / Been too many nights since it's felt us make love / I wanna rock some sheet rock, knock some pictures off the wall / Love you baby like a wrecking ball.”

“Like a Wrecking Ball” follows Church's four previous singles from this album: “The Outsiders,” “Give Me Back My Hometown,” “Cold One,” and “Talladega.” This one might be the most impressive, given its willingness to incorporate a toned-down soul groove as part of its overall package. With a musically sensitive take on familiar subject matter, Church has shown again why he is one of the finest performers in country music today. Church recently earned a Grammy nomination for “Give Me Back My Hometown,” and “Like a Wrecking Ball” is every bit as strong.

“Wrecking Ball” fits in nicely on The Outsiders next to some of the more up-tempo tracks. “Coming off the Chief record, I wanted this album to be as different as we could make it,” Church recently told the Times-Picayune. “I wanted it to be its own thing. If you're a Beatles fan, I wanted it to be more White Album. We achieved that.

“The funny thing is that when we finished the album and I listened to it for the first time, I had that, 'Oh, s---,' moment of, 'I'm not sure this is commercial at all.'” Church's worries were unfounded, now that The Outsiders has gone on to become a smash hit.

Church will be performing in two weeks at the 2015 ACM Awards, and hopefully he'll treat the audience to a live rendition of this song. His nominations this year include Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year.