Country singer-songwriter Chase Rice has had quite the rollercoaster ride on his career so far. Following two independently released studio albums, Chase signed to Columbia Nashville for third album Ignite the Night in 2014. That scored him his first number one and housed his breakthrough hit Ready Set Roll. Creative differences and a desire to stretch his wings led Chase to leave the label and sign with Broken Bow for his fourth album Lambs & Lions, which marked a departure from the bro-country sound of his previous material. While not a complete success, it was at least a step in the right direction. Following his recent UK tour, Chase is now releasing The Album: Part 1 EP, a collection of seven new tracks including current single Lonely If You Are.
In recent interviews Chase has stated that he believes the material on this EP is better than anything he’s recorded before. I’d be inclined to agree. For me Chase hasn’t always recorded material that suits his voice and this collection of songs feels much better suited to him. He doesn’t have the strongest voice, but neither do some of the reigning male chart-toppers in the genre, and it’s playing live where I’ve often found myself the most disappointed with him. How he fares with these songs live remains to be seen although a quick scan of YouTube suggests that Lonely If You Are translates well live.
That aside, there’s no denying that The Album: Part 1 EP is yet another step in the right direction for Chase. It moves even further away from bro-country and takes inspiration from the likes of Sam Hunt and Dustin Lynch. Opening track American Nights is very commercial but it’s geared towards being played live. In a big arena, it’s going to sound like a monster of a tune with the tingling piano melody pulling in a little 80s influence. Vocally Chase moves between speaking-singing and pushing his gravelly tone. It works and the style suits him.
Current single Lonely If You Are is a fantastic indication of what to expect here. The song fits nicely in the landscape of modern Country and while it is similar in style to the aforementioned Sam Hunt, that’s not likely to bother his ever-growing fanbase. The memorable hook will lodge in your brain and the simple acoustic guitar-riff that’s present throughout the verses will stay with you. The first real standout is Best Night Ever, a thunderous beat-driven pop-Country moment where Chase sounds comfortable vocally. The song pulls a slightly more soulful sound from him and I really like it.
Elsewhere on the EP the acoustic Messy, which features a female harmony vocal, is a nice shift in gear and lets Chase show that he can carry a song without the need for lots of production behind him. Again, his voice on this sounds really nice and it plays to his strengths. Everywhere ups the tempo and is the closest you get to a party track, complete with speak-rap verses, and In the Car has an eye firmly on radio play, which it’ll get a lot of should it be picked as a single.
Chase saves the best for last with the gently lilting acoustic-driven Forever to Go. It’s a reflective moment that is perfect to round out the EP and I hope in the future we get treated to some stripped-down acoustic performances of the song.
For someone who has been critical of Chase in the past, I’m impressed with what he’s delivered on The Album: Part 1 EP. I’ve been rooting for Chase for a while now. He’s a nice guy, he’s a talented songwriter and he’s had some decent songs. While I still wait for him to win me over as a live artist, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is the best set of songs he’s ever recorded. I feel excited for what else he has coming this year and this material puts him on a level playing field to finally have that breakout artist moment he’s been on the verge of for years.
Track list: 1. American Nights 2. Lonely If You Are 3. Everywhere 4. Best Night Ever 5. Messy 6. In the Car 7. Forever to Go Record label: BBR Music Group Release date: 24th January 2020 Buy The Album: Part 1 EP