Ray Fulcher released his latest studio album, Spray Painted Line, on June 10, and if fans are drawing comparisons between this batch of music and Eric Church's early tunes, that is by design.

In a recent interview with Taste of Country Nights' Evan Paul, Fulcher explains that he drew inspiration from Church, whom he calls his "hero," for the project.

"My thought on the album was to be almost a 2022 version of those early Eric [songs]," says Fulcher.

"He's kind of been my hero for a long time, and I get so much of my influence from those early Eric records," he adds.

The Harlem, Ga., artist certainly accomplished that feat with multiple songs on the album, including "If You Like Your Boys Like That," which features a sound reminiscent of Church's Sinners Like Me or Carolina album eras.

However, Church's contribution to Fulcher's latest record goes beyond inspiration: One of the album's tunes, "The Battle of Betty's Love," was written by Church nearly 20 years ago.

"I fell in love with this song that he wrote back in 2004," Fulcher says of the song. "I found it, fell in love with it and it was not as hard as we thought. My producer called and he was just like, 'Yeah, they can cut it. Absolutely.'"

The Church-penned track on Fulcher's latest album isn't the first time the two artists have swapped songs. Fulcher, an established songwriter in his own right, wrote Luke Combs' "Does to Me," a duet with Church. Fulcher has since met and chatted with Church multiple times, and Church says he was happy to hand over "The Battle of Betty's Love" to him.

"When I got to talk to him, he goes, 'It's an honor for you to cut that song because 'Does to Me,' it was an honor for me to be on that song and you wrote it,'" Fulcher says of his conversation with Church.

Through their swapping of songs and conversations, Fulcher says Church has become a "colleague," which is something he's not quite used to yet.

"[It's] strange, surreal," says Fulcher. "I'm like, 'Um, you know you're the Chief, right?' It's been awesome kind of getting to know him. I got to hang out with him a couple of times and just getting to hang out and getting to know the dude behind the aviators has been cool."

Combs is another known fan of Church's, and Fulcher used his admiration for the singer to play a clever prank at the end of Combs' What You See Is What You Get 2021 Tour. During Combs' set, Fulcher, an opener on the tour, came out onstage dressed like Church — with an American flag scarf, aviator glasses and all.

Fulcher is a songwriter behind many of Combs' tunes, including "When It Rains It Pours," "Even Though I'm Leaving," "Lovin' on You" and more.

Top 50 Eric Church Songs: His Greatest Hits and Best Deep Cuts

Eric Church’s best song fall into rows. There’s the sullen heartbreakers and the grateful lovers. There are the snarling social statements and buoyant bops. OK, there are only a couple of buoyant bops on this list of Church's 50 greatest songs, but they exist. 

He's been known to sample R-Rated burners and sage truth-tellers — and then there are two songs about murder. So, Eric Church’s songs fall into rows, but there are a lot of rows in his 15-year catalog. 

His best song? Taste of Country asked fans, staff and the industry to weigh in and then looked at chart success, sales data pop culture importance to choose No. 1 from No. 50. Songs with strong lyrical content rank high. Songs with creative production rank high. Songs with both ended up in the Top 5. 

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