Morgan Wallen has earned a reputation as one of country music's new class of rebels, and he's got the respect of one of those who came before him.

In interviews, Wallen has sometimes mentioned his admiration for Eric Church, saying that the star is one of the artists who got him into country music in the first place. “The way he wrote songs and the way that he said things really struck a chord with me. His realness, raw emotion and authenticity drew me in," Wallen tells Billboard of Church, stating that he'd been "living country music more than I was listening to it” prior to getting into Church's material.

The admiration is mutual, as it turns out. Says Church of Wallen, "He’s real damn good, and he’s authentic.

"That’s the key," Church adds. "Morgan is not trying to be somebody else. He’s just doing him. It’s refreshing to see and hear."

Church contributed a song to Wallen's recently released double album Dangerous, "Quittin' Time." He praises Wallen's work on the track as "not just hitting the technical parts of the song but the emotional ones. Those are the ones that matter."

Wallen's Dangerous is his sophomore album; it follows 2018's If I Know Me. Its release on Jan. 8 began what's positioned to be a big year for the reigning CMA New Artist of the Year, following his Saturday Night Live debut in December (two months later than scheduled after the singer broke the show's COVID-19 protocols by partying with University of Alabama students).

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