Eric Church brings fans message-driven songs in his third studio album, 'Chief,' which hits stores July 26. Sure, the music is also filled with the scorching hot guitar riffs that are Eric's trademark, but he's crafted each tune as a story, following the best tradition of country music.

For instance, 'Homeboy,' which Eric co-wrote with Casey Beathard, is about a man urged to consider the phrase "home, boy." "What was really interesting about that was it was about a journey that started in one place and ends in a totally different place," Eric tells The Boot. "What tied the whole song together was the chorus. I love writing a song where you're in the middle of it and say, 'What now?'"

The answer seemed to come naturally to Eric and Casey, who are involved in hometown sports and rooted in traditional values. The pair did so by using 'home' in three different ways: literally, figuratively and spiritually.

"I have a theory that all [artists] only get a small window of time to make records when people will really listen and care," Eric says. "It's up to us to move the needle. People like Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks and George Strait, they all took the format and said, 'We're going over here.' They each changed the direction of the music a little bit, helping to make it what it is today."

Eric is clearly following along those lines with a fan base so loyal that they prodded organizers of last year's Country Throwdown to move Eric's set to the Main Stage.

"It's funny to watch my fans take things personally," Eric explained. "You see these mini-fights. If a fan is sitting down or not paying attention, you'll see one of my fans jerk them up by the collar and say, 'Love it!' They feel so passionately about our music. They say 'This is my guy and my music.'"

The album's name, 'Chief,' a nickname of his grandfather, seems perfectly suited to this time in Eric's career. "When it's show time, I put on the sunglasses and the hat, and that's how people know it's game time," he says. "This album was made from a live place; we recorded it with the live show in mind, so it just seemed right to make that the title."

Eric is on tour with Jason Aldean until June 5. He will join Toby Keith on tour starting June 30. For a complete list of his concert dates and locations, check here.

'Chief' Track List:

1. 'Creepin' (Eric Church, Marv Green)

2. 'Drink In My Hand' (Eric Church, Michael P. Heeney, Luke Laird)

3. 'Keep On' (Eric Church, Ryan Tyndell)

4. 'Like Jesus Does' (Casey Beathard ,Monty Criswell)

5. 'Hungover & Hard Up' (Eric Church, Luke Laird)

6. 'Homeboy' (Eric Church, Casey Beathard)

7. 'Country Music Jesus' (Eric Church, Jeremy Spillman)

8. 'Jack Daniels' (Eric Church, Jeff Hyde, Lynn Hutton)

9. 'Springsteen' (Eric Church, Jeff Hyde, Ryan Tyndell)

10. 'I'm Gettin' Stoned' (Eric Church, Jeff Hyde, Casey Beathard, Jeremy Cradey)

11. 'Over When It's Over' (Eric Church, Luke Laird)

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