One week after the release of Eric Church’s critically acclaimed new studio album, The Outsiders, he sits at the No. 1 spot on both the Billboard Top 200 and the Billboard Top Country Album sales charts with album sales of nearly 288,000 (287,688), according to Soundscan. With this news, Church has nearly doubled his previous 2011 album, Chief’s, first week sales.

Fans and critics alike have been anxious for the North Carolina singer/songwriter’s fourth studio album, produced by Jay Joyce, that was released via EMI Nashville on February 11th; an album that Entertainment Weekly gave a Grade A and says is “the still-rising star’s most brazen, brilliant disc yet, and the first great album of this year,” while NPR Fresh Air’s critic Ken Tucker announced “Eric Church is working on a level that few other country artists of his generation can touch.”

In advance of the release of The Outsiders, Church was recently profiled on CBS Sunday Morning with footage taken at Church’s remote cabin in the mountains of North Carolina. That same week he graced the cover of SPIN where the magazine claims “He’s the most exciting, sonically fearless singer in Nashville,” adding “The guy [is] so divisive he’s a uniter.”

USA Today listed The Outsiders as its Album Of The Week on February 11, giving the release FOUR out of FOUR Stars, touting “It’s adventurous and outrageous, full of metallic guitars and funky country skronk but also expresses vulnerability and pain.” The Tampa Bay Times says that the singer/songwriter is “Giving you something new and unexpected: That’s how Church scores his high.”

“And with this album, I can absolutely say, it beats Chief in that regard, if we’re trying to beat it, you know?”

Church says The Outsiders is the most creative album he’s done.

“I don’t judge an album on, ‘Did it sell more than the last one? Did it have more No. 1’s than the last one?’ That’s not the way I view success,” he says. “That’s the commercial side. The way I view it is creatively, does it go somewhere the one before it didn’t go? And with this album, I can absolutely say, it beats Chief in that regard, if we’re trying to beat it, you know? I don’t like viewing it that way. I think every record’s its own thing. But from a creative standpoint, this is a more creative album. This is a more artistic album than we’ve ever done. for me and Jay, as the person that have made the albums, I can very easily look at somebody and go, ‘Yeah! It’s the best record we’ve made,’ on that basis. Will it sell as many? I have no idea. [laughs] See, I can’t control that, but I can control the creative bar, and we got over that.”

Church celebrated the album by performing six shows in six different cities in two days late last week. Rolling Stone tagged along with the country superstar for the special club dates and documented for their website.