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Track Review

Forging his music career the old-fashioned way—playing countless gigs in anonymous dive bars, restaurants and honky-tonks—34-year-old singer/songwriter Eric Church hit pay dirt with his 2006 debut, Sinners Like Me. Since then, the North Carolina native's distinct fusion of traditional country twang and anthemic arena-rock riffs has netted a growing following. His third album, Chief, recently bowed at No. 1, while the Academy of Country Music chose him as its Top New Solo Vocalist in 2011.

With his latest single, "Homeboy," Church plays up the wordplay he's become known for, belting out a heartfelt appeal to his delinquent (and fictional) "homeboy" little brother, whose life has become a downward spiral of bad choices since he turned his back on his small-town upbringing. "You were too bad for a little square town," the sad story begins, "With your hip-hop hat and your pants on the ground/Heard you cussed out Momma, pushed Daddy around 'for you tore off in his car." Chiding his sibling's adoption of "gangsta" style, big bro admonishes the prodigal to come to his senses: "Tattoo on your neck, fake gold on your teeth/Got the 'hood here snowed, but you can't fool me/We both know who you are/ … Come on home, boy."

The video tells the rebel's story of struggle in the big city. When chased and roughly apprehended by police, we glimpse cigarettes, money and illegal drugs spilling from his pockets. And as he looks pensively out of a jail cell, the chorus imagines a different life: "Homeboy you're gonna wish one day you were sittin' on the gate of a truck by the lake/With your high school flame on one side, ice cold beer on the other/Ain't no shame in a blue collar forty, little house, little kids, little small town story/If you don't ever do anything else for me/Just do this for me, brother/Come on home, boy."

Celebrating the simplicity and virtue of small-town life, Eric tells his brother he could stay busy and out of trouble by helping him unload hay and work on the farm. "Ain't a glamorous life," he sings, "but it'll keep you outta jail and not worry us all to death." (Never mind the fact that Church's last hit, "Smoke a Little Smoke," celebrates the partying, smoking and drinking that goes on in small towns.) And "Homeboy" not only demonstrates deep concern for the prodigal, but for his parents as well. As a final request of his wayward sibling, Church sings, "You can't hold back the hands of time/Momma's goin' gray and so is Daddy's mind/I wish you'd come on back and make it all right/Before they're called home, boy."

After being released from jail in the video—to a flourish of rockin' guitars—the brother wrestles with the consequences of his poor choices. He busts up a lamp, some beer bottles and a coffee table in regret and frustration. But in the end, he cleans himself up, packs a bag and boards a bus … headed home.

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Peaked at No. 13 on Billboard's Country Songs chart.

Record Label

EMI Nashville




February 28, 2011

On Video

Year Published



Meredith Whitmore

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