Sunday, June 06, 2021

Kat's Korner: Chase Rice serves up a masterpiece

Kat: 1984 was a seminal year for music with three classics issued in the latter part of the year alone: Prince's PURPLE RAIN, Tina Turner's PRIVATE DANCER and Bruce Springsteen's BORN IN THE USA.  Tina and Prince were offering phenomenal growth while Bruce, following up THE RIVER and NEBRASKA, seemed more of a natural growth.  But it was BORN IN THE USA that would actually prove to be the album that could not be topped.

I love TUNNEL OF LOVE but it's not growth.  It's some nursey rhymes with a few good songs.  Bruce couldn't dig deep.  And it really showed -- even more so when he attempted to follow up BORN IN THE USA with the one-two whimper of HUMAN TOUCH and LUCKY TOWN -- albums of songcraft and rhyme but no real meaning or depth.  He'd rise to the challenge finally with 2002's RISING but that's been about it.  

In fairness to the elderly rocker, immediately after the release of BORN IN THE USA, every artist with a guitar and a cock was convinced he could pull something off and most could not.  Two who could?  Don Henley and John Mellencamp.  Five months after BORN IN THE USA hit stores, Don released BUILDING THE PERFECT BEAST, an album even more mature and more complex than anything Bruce ever rasped his way through while, a year later, John served up SCARECROW which was everything the hoopla had claimed BORN IN THE USA was.  The real difference?  John (and Don) lived their songs while Bruce seemed like a Brill Building writer from the sixties pretending -- Bruce never worked "down at the car wash, where all it ever does is rain" -- or, in fact, at any job other than music.  

It seemed so easy, back in June of 1984, you just wrote what you knew.  But many tried to pull it off -- even Bruce himself -- and so many failed.

I was thinking about that while listening to Chase Rice's latest offering THE ALBUM which came out May 28th.  For 15 tracks, Chase appears to let us into the mind of an adult male -- something Bruce hinted at before he got lost in tales of "won't you be my pony boy, giddy-up giddy-up, my pony boy" and other nonsense.

It's the sheets wrinkled up at the foot of the bed

It's your hair in a knot on the top of your head

It's the crawling in the back seat 

Knocking over everything

'Cause we couldn't wait to get home

Baby, loving you, it ain't always pretty 

But as long as you let me

I'll take the messy, oh

It's the mascara running away from those homey eyes

And you don't know hy you cry, but I'm still gonna hold you tight

It's the cabernet spilling

All of those feelings

We've been bottling up

Baby, loving you, it ain't always pretty

But as long as you let me

I'm gonna love you the best that I can

Even when you can't stand me

Even when you can't even stand yourself

I'm telling you I ain't going nowhere

I swear, don't care, I'm here

Ain't anywhere else I'd rather be

And as long as you let me

I'll take the messy, oh

It's a great song lyrically.  Stream the video below and marvel over the vocal.

Michael Jackson had something of a rivalry going on with Bruce -- one-sided, but a rivalry none the less.  Michael often shared his opinion that Bruce couldn't sing.  I think, could be wrong, Michael was getting at the fact that Bruce wasn't very versatile vocally.  He pretty much attacked every song the same way.  Michael, a gifted singer, attempted to vary his range and delivery to meet the demands of a song.

Chase is a singer.  His vocals serve the song -- like when he pitches to his upper range on "Forever To Go" or the sweep and grandeur of his vocals on "Down Home Runs Deep" or the way he walks through the chorus -- steady and sure -- of "Belong" that brings so much more weight to the lyrics than you'd ever expects.   It's talent and natural instinct that allow him to deliver the sound and touch needed on all fifteen songs.  Chase is a songwriter as well and one with keen insight.  He's not working through words to get to end-rhymes, this isn't Brill Building assembly-line song writing.  He's sharing experiences and emotions.  

The album contains the crowd pleaser "Drinkin' Beer. Talkin God.  Amen."

The album would be worth including in your collection for that track alone.  But the other fourteen tracks add additional textures and moods.  It's a mature album, the sort Frank Sinatra made seem so easy when he moved to CAPITOL and that Sade seems to come by as naturally as breathing.  

Chase reveals himself as a major talent with THE ALBUM and, if we still appreciate music that reflects the life we live, this will be a major album.  

"Break. Up. Drunk." is one of my favorite tracks on the album.

But all fifteen, really, qualify as my favorite tracks, there's not a single bit of filler.  I strongly urge you to check out THE ALBUM.