Georgie Thorogood takes a listen to the recently-released album from previous bro-country flag bearer Chase Rice. Here’s what she had to say:
Overall, this is a fantastic collection of songs which feel like Rice has found his authentic sound after having tried to be someone he isn’t. It feels unforced.
In a bid to become the man his late father would want him to be, Rice feels this collection of songs is a big step towards that musically. Obviously with no personal knowledge of his father it’s difficult to be sure, but from an objective stance, I would say he has nailed it.
When reviewing a country album, one of the queries that comes to mind is whether a dear friend of mine who is a huge fan of “proper” country would like it. Two or three years ago, if reviewing a Chase Rice album or show, the answer would have been absolutely not! Now, however, I think he will be a fan!
Kicking off with Walk That Easy, Rice is setting the scene for a truly country album. Written with Barton Davies & William Reames from Boy Named Banjo, Oscar Charles (Elvie Shane, Madeline Edwards) and Jonathan Sherwood (Little Louder Music) it boasts sympathetic but strong production, resulting in a similar sound to Key West & Colorado which comes later on.
A less obviously commercial production showcases Rice’s vocals in All Dogs Go To Hell and the great storytelling runs along the same line as Dolly Parton’s Grass is Blue. At first listen, it was almost the standout song of the album, having listened a few more times however, it’s more of a close call, but it is still a great song.
The fun Mexican sounding Way Down Yonder is again a complete departure from the Eyes On You days and with six million streams on Spotify alone since its release in October, it is clear that this is appreciated by Chase Rice fans. The variation in production from full on to stripped back creates a great atmosphere throughout the track.
Another commercial sounding track is Key West & Colorado which perhaps allows for a slightly smoother transition to his new authentic sound. Having reviewed this previously and given it a thumbs up, I’m moving swiftly on to the lovely Bench Seat. This could have developed into a pop country song but turns into a gentle song of appreciation and gratefulness and although the bass line picks up halfway, it is still understated and it feels a lot more true than his bro-country days. It’s a completely country sound and the storytelling resulted in decidedly watery eyes!
One of the great things about this album is that the songs written by Rice alone are some of the best tracks. One of which is Life Part Of Livin’. The understated production picks up after about a minute but the whole song feels full of self-realisation and self-discovery. It would be interesting to know where this sits in terms of chronology for this album. It’s definitely a stand out track.
Cranking up the vibe for a real, honest to goodness drinking song, Bad Day To Be A Cold Beer is a rocky and fun track. Written by Chase, together with Blake Prendergrass (Morgan Wallen amongst others), John Byron (writer for Big Loud & has written for Morgan Wallen) and Justin Thomas (frontman for a Nashville-based rock band), this was always going to be a lively inclusion.
The mammoth 7.38 minutes of Oklahoma felt a little overwhelming to begin with, and featuring the Read Southall Band it is true Oklahoma Country Rock. There is an interesting use of different keys and a lazy tone to the lyrics. When there is a period of whistling after three mins it feels like the song is about to end, but it picks up and continues with a long instrumental (four mins+) culminating in some fairly heavy sounds. It’s a unique track, but it wouldn’t be at the top of the leaderboard for this listener.
The initial thought on hearing I Walk Alone was that it was interesting, but not exciting. The very gentle and delicate vocals that open the song held much more meaning once the track had been heard in full. The pick up in production and atmosphere after around two minutes gives more weight to the delicacy of the opening half. It feels like a song which potentially is very powerful to Chase Rice personally.
Upping the ante and bringing back some drinking song vibes is Sorry Momma. A typically country song with apologies from a son for being a hell raiser, the use of keys and backing vocals are definitely reminiscent of Jerry Lee Lewis’s Great Balls of Fire.
Another song written by Rice alone is If I Were Rock & Roll, and again it is a cracker with fantastic storytelling. It’s got all the elements of a classic country song – Jesus, guitars, porches, rocking chairs and it’s an upbeat song with a nostalgic twist. The variation of tempos in the final minute of the song creates more atmosphere and it is one of the top tracks.
Goodnight Nancy features Boy Named Banjo and it’s a bit of a rowdy-but-fun bar song with a strong honky tonk vibe.
Rounding off the album is I Hate Cowboys. Understated and humble again it’s a perfect culmination of this collection of songs which all give the impression that Rice has had a huge personal shift. On the whole, this is a really great album which feels hugely more natural than some of his earlier songs. From an audience perspective, expectations are that this content will prove to be massively popular when performed live due to its personal nature and authenticity. It’s a winner for me!
I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go To Hell is now available to stream or buy.