Country Jukebox Jury LP: Chase Rice – The Album

The man who held an unsocially distanced gig last year still has a career because of money accrued through writing Cruise. His UK gig last January included a medley of All The Small Things by Blink 182, Sweet Home Alabama and Sweet Caroline, all of which are better than his set closer and bro-country banger Ready Set Roll.

Now the third and final part of The Album has been released and I can talk about the entire release. The cover, by the way, has Chase in his ballcap on which reads HDEU: Head Down, Eyes Up.

The first part came out nearly 18 months ago and was promoted by the hit song Lonely If You Are, which is boring and is all the worst aspects of commercial country radio. Songs like this are one of the reasons (with apologies) that I find it tough to listen to the big country stations.

Among the tracks that now populate the first half of the album, there’s the gentle Forever To Go which is a tableau of a summer night that marks another year of being together. American Nights, In The Car and Best Night Ever are all nothing songs with nothing ‘woah’ hooks about being human delivered in Chase’s knock-off Sam Hunt. Messy, underscored by an acoustic guitar, is Chase’s version of All of Me by John Legend but without the panache. Maybe he wanted to put out the songs in three goes to avoid accusations of filler.

Part Two followed last May. Down Home Runs Deep, which is a little checklisty, and the universalist anthem Belong (‘Let’s put more Amazing back into Grace!’ and more talk-singing and woahs) both got big pushes. Both were co-written by A-Listers, respectively Hardy (you can tell) and Jon Nite. Jon also wrote the in-yer-face You (‘You! You!’) and Bedroom, on which more shortly. The Mumford-y hoedown of Break. Up. Drunk. (note the full stops) is basically Drunk on a Plane but the woman’s on the plane and Chase is drowning his sorrows down below. As with You, the production from Chase and Chris DeStefano is enormous and this one is definitely not filler. Unsurprisingly Chase puts this near the top of his live set.

The big new song, among four that stand as the third and final part, is the peppy Drinking Beer Talking God Amen, which acts as an album closer and already has 25m streams thanks to radio play which takes it towards the top 10. It’s a campfire jam that cancels out a lot of dreck on The Album.

The Nights is an introspective ballad where Chase can’t get over his ex. Maybe I’m too old for it but I can’t connect with the speak-singing or his vocals, which over the course of the album show the narrowness of his range. No wonder he has to utter his lyrics rather than stick them to a melody.

Bedroom is another Nite-Rice-Robbins composition, and Jimmy Robbins is one of the best topline writers in town, so at least there’s a tremendous chorus in this song about perhaps having sex. If I Didn’t Have You is a galloping tune where Chase says he would be a ‘wreck on a local barstool’ without his beloved holding him down. I think that is an apt metaphor for an album where the big writers rescue this collection from being atrocious and, as he alludes to, a load of ‘truck songs’. Chase is best when he’s singing melodies. Ultimately Sam Hunt does this much better because he’s a genius songwriter.

Chase, who is a berk whose career really should be over by now, got lucky by being in the room where Cruise happened. I wish him well.

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