Church started his songwriting of the album on his guitar, nicknamed "Butter Bean" by his son, in the latter part of the summer. Within just twenty days, he had twenty songs written for the album, when he went into the studio, where twenty days later after some recording sessions, the ten tracks that comprise this album were finished. The recording sessions for this album took place in mid-to-late-September to early-October 2015. Church got Jay Joyce to produce the album, while his label EMI Records Nashville was the imprint used. This album was produced at St. Charles Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. The song, "Mixed Drinks about Feelings", featured blues and blue-eyed soul performer, Susan Tedeschi. Its song, "Chattanooga Lucy", featured country artist, Joanna Cotten, while the song, "Kill a Word", has two songstress featured, in Kentuckian, Andrea Davidson, and Americana singer, Rhiannon Giddens. Church put on the cover, McKinley James "Mickey" Smay, who is a 14-year old in the ninth grade at a high school located in Rochester, New York, where he also makes an appearance on the music video for this song, while his father is a rock music drummer, Jason Smay.
This album was released to his fan club members, known as The Church Choir, where it is a paid membership, on November 3, 2015, via email, and some select fans and radio-stations got copies of the album on compact disc and vinyl. His music club fans posted snippets of the songs on YouTube, where they were quickly removed for copyright infringement. It came out on Apple Inc.'s iTunes, the subsequent day, where it was distributed exclusively through them. Church performed, "Mr. Misunderstood", at the 2015 Country Music Association Awards, where the news of the new album became evident.
The musical style of this album is one of tremendous depth, diversity, and complexity, where critics have put various genres and styles to its contents, such as the following; country, rock, blues, folk, gospel, soul, funk, metal, hard rock, alternative country, alternative rock, country rock, country blues country gospel, gospel blues bluegrass, folk rock, heartland rock, progressive rock, roots rock, rock and roll, rhythm and blues,southern gospel, southern rock, and southern soul. His music here has been compared to the likes of The Allman Brothers Band, John Mellencamp, The Marshall Tucker Band, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. Stephen Thomas Erlewine believes, "where other country is provincial, Church embraces the world without repudiating his home."
Mr. Misunderstood received widespread acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a "weighted average" rating out of 100 from selected independent ratings and reviews from mainstream critics, the album received a Metascore of 84 out of 100, based on 8 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."
Awarding the album four and a half stars out of five, AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine writes, "Mr. Misunderstood is built for the long haul: it settles into the soul, its pleasures immediate but also sustained." Jon Dolan, giving the album four stars at Rolling Stone, recognizes, "Church's well-observed writing and warm, generous wit ground the album, particularly on two examples of the small-town vignettes he does so well". Rating the album a seven out of ten from Spin, Jonathan Bernstein describes, "A small shame, then, that he chose what might have been the safest move: making what is sure to become the most agreeable, least controversial record of his career." Jon Caramanica, writing a review at The New York Times, states, "The album, a love letter to his influences, is the gentlest of Mr. Church’s releases, the one that least wears his rowdy tendencies on its sleeve." Reviewing the album for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Erik Ernst writes, "Church is country music's weird kid, who bucked the industry's expectations to chase cookie-cutter radio hits and defiantly forged his voice as an innovative, authentic songwriter." Sarah Rodman, critiquing the album from The Boston Globe, remarks, "He vaults over that bar with 'Mr. Misunderstood,' in some ways a love letter to music itself and to the ways it can save a soul, a heart, a sense of self." Assigning the album an A-grade from Nash Country Weekly, Bob Paxman recognizes, "Mr. Misunderstood is more of the stripped-down, heart-in-the-heartland version of Eric that won fans over in the beginning, without the overproduction that sometimes plagued The Outsiders." Craig Manning, indicating in an eight out of ten review at AbsolutePunk, responds, "Mr. Misunderstood is the first album from Church where I've viewed him not just as 'good, for mainstream country,' but as 'great, period.'" Anthony Easton, signaling in a seven out of ten review from PopMatters, replies, "it includes excellent vocals, sophisticated musical choices, and strong storytelling chops."
Within two days of sales in its first chart week, Mr. Misunderstood debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200 with 76,000 equivalent album units (70,000 from digital sales). The following week, its first to count a full week of sales, the album climbed to number two on the Billboard 200 chart, selling an additional 65,000 units (58,000 pure album sales). As of March 2017 the album has sold 509,200 copies in the United States.