For his fourth studio album Chase Rice has changed labels and is out to change people’s opinions of him. Responsible for co-writing Florida Georgia Line’s breakout hit Cruise, Rice got swept up in the bro-country movement and its subsequent backlash did nothing to help his career. His major label debut Ignite the Night, was a number 1 album that spawned the Top 10 hits Ready Set Roll and Gonna Wanna Tonight. When it came to a follow up, Rice found his then label home disinterested so he got out of his deal and signed a new one with Broken Bow Records, which allowed him more creative freedom.
After a lengthy wait (it’s been 3 years since Ignite the Night), Rice recently released Lambs & Lions and it’s a stark contrast to the music we’ve heard from him before. There’s no whiff of bro-country on the record and it’s s surprisingly personal collection of songs. Fans of his previous work may need a little time to adjust to Rice’s new sound but I think it’s a huge improvement for him.
The album opens with Lions, a track that incorporates chants from the Lord’s Prayer with a rockier edge. It’s a fighter’s anthem and it’s unsurprising given the personal and professional struggles Rice has endured in recent times. Those experiences have given him a focus though and he’s never sounded better than he does on this record.
Unforgettable has a lazy soul feel, Jack Daniel’s Showed Up embraces a more traditional Country sound and Saved Me offers a glimpse of exactly what Rice has been going through to get to this record. Lead single Three Chords & the Truth celebrates the power of music and it’s reminiscent of Dierks Bentley at his best.
The standout moment on the record is the emotional Amen. Rice’s vocal is perhaps the most heartfelt its ever been and the gospel touch sends shivers down your spine. The song is about Rice’s father and it’s clearly one that he holds very dear.
The album’s final track is a cover of Chris LeDoux’s This Cowboy’s Hat featuring Chris’ son Ned. It’s sure to divide fans of both Rice’s and LeDoux’s but it’s one of the boldest moments on the record. Rice is brave to cover such a well-loved song but I think he pulls it off and puts his own stamp on it.
Lambs & Lions is a bold statement and it should see Rice moving on from his past and his troubles. It’s a confident collection of personal songs that shows the man behind the hits. It’s a step in the right direction and it should see him taken more seriously as an artist with a lot more to give than he’s been able to up to this point.
Track listing: 1. Lions 2. On Tonight 3. Unforgettable 4. Eyes On You 5. Saved Me 6. One Love, One Kiss, One Drink, One Song 7. Jack Daniel’s Showed Up 8. Three Chords & the Truth 9. Amen 10. This Cowboy’s Hat feat Ned LeDoux Record label: BMG Release date: 1st December 2017