songwriter Carrie Underwood from her fifth studio album,
Storyteller . The song was written by Zach Crowell, Brett James,
and Hillary Lindsey, with production from Mark Bright, and will
serve as the third single from the album in the United States,
being shipped to radio on April 3, 2016, and having an official
impact date of April 11.
Composition and lyrics
"Church Bells" is a country pop song that tells the story of a
young woman who marries a rich, older gentleman, but
afterwards finds herself trapped in an abusive marriage, which
she ends by poisoning his drink (in a manner that the cause of
his death would be a mystery and that law enforcement would
not trace to her).
Underwood said of the song, "It's...like Fancy's little sister",
referencing Bobbie Gentry 's hit song " Fancy ", made famous by
Reba McEntire .“She’s young, she’s pretty, she’s poor, doing
what she can to survive,” Underwood explains, describing her
“Church Bells” heroine. “(She) meets a man that has a lot of
wealth and is supposed to take care of her.”
The song received generally positive reviews.In their review of
the album, Billboard said of the song, "The first half holds a pair
of Southern-gothic blockbusters that are the closest she has
come to channeling McEntire’s down-home storytelling: “Choctaw
County Affair,” a tale of lovers silencing their would-be
blackmailer, and “Church Bells,” a rags-to-riches murder ballad in
which a woman quietly offs her abusive husband." Rolling Stone
called it "the most epic domestic-violence-revenge-murder ballad
in years" and that it "split the difference between Martina
McBride's "Independence Day" and the Dixie Chicks "Goodbye
Earl", but without the latter's safety-valve of humor."
In a mixed review, "Taste Of Country" said of the song as "On
“Church Bells” Underwood injects new drama into an oft-told tale.
The Dixie Chicks “Goodbye Earl” relies on the same plot points,
with Earl’s fate being the same as the oil baron in this song".The
review was concluded by saying "Expect the song to perform well
on country radio, even if it’s not one that pushes her artistry
forward as much as others on her most recent studio album".
The music video for the single was filmed in Lincoln, Nebraska .
Underwood first performed the song live on the first stop of the
Storyteller Tour in Jacksonville, Florida. She has since
performed the song numerous times during the tour.
Underwood's first televised performance of the song was at the
51st Annual Academy of Country Music Awards.