“If anything’s going to set up a story, ‘Neon Church’ will.”
That’s how Tim McGraw sees his brand new single, “Neon Church.” And if he’s right, and his next album will truly be full of storytelling, then I say amen to that.
“’Neon Church’ paints a picture of sort of the hard-charging that this album has,” McGraw says of the new tones and sounds his fans will hear on the next batch of music. “We pushed the envelope a lot on it, but I think it also sets the mood for great storytelling. That’s what this album is really full of.
“And sonically, we wanted it to sound really big and cinematic. But we also wanted to tell great stories and have these great vignettes throughout the album.”
While McGraw didn’t pen the song — Ross Ellis Lipsey, Ben Stennis and Ben Goldsmith share the co-writing credits on this one — he certainly brings a unique perspective to the ballad’s lyrics about making choices between Jesus and whiskey, and maybe finding some kind of salvation that is a little bit of both, maybe with a bartending preacher and some unholy water along the way. It may sound familiar to longtime McGraw fans because he released a single in 2005 with the same life-at-the-crossroads message, called “Drugs or Jesus.” It was about being caught between being lost and being found, and the long, long way from wrong to right.
But there’s an obvious difference between the songs, and between that McGraw and this McGraw. In 2008, so three years after “Drug or Jesus” came out, McGraw sobered up for good after years of choosing unwisely. He’d told Men’s Health that he realized he drank too much and partied too much.
This is McGraw’s first solo single in nearly two and a half years, since “How I’ll Always Be” was released in July 2016. Since then, McGraw has been focused on the duets he recorded with his wife Faith Hill for their The Rest of Our Life album.