US Country superstar Chase Rice follows through on his promise to drop the second instalment of his The Album series as soon as possible. For all the negative aspects of lockdown and quarantine, it has been great to see artists flooding this period with a flurry of new releases to help keep fans’ spirits up.
The Album Pt. II gives listeners another glimpse into the eclectic mix of genres that Chase welds together. ‘You’ kicks off the EP with an EDM/Pop-Rock tinged anthem, with a seismic hook reminiscent of Bastille or Imagine Dragons. A twinkling, teasing piano sets up the song, before Chase launches into the verses with his trademark charismatic drawl. The female backing vocals add another level of intensity to the song, and one can’t help but think a duet would certainly be an interesting avenue for Chase to go down in future.
On the face of it, ‘Break. Up. Drunk.’ should be a sad song, with Chase lamenting the pain of a break-up, and suggesting they turn to alcohol to soften the blow. But somehow he transforms it into an uptempo drinking song, and provides an 11th hour afterglow of warmth before the couple splits up for good.
Then comes ‘Down Home Runs Deep’, a more reflective ode to how you can take the ‘good ole’ boy’ out of the country, but you can never take the country out of the ‘good ole’ boy’. Chase knocks the hook for another home run and keeps the momentum going, altering his cadence to step up the energy just when you thought it had already hit its peak.
So far, it’s been rip-roaring and ferocious from the moment the opening bass hits on ‘You’. But while the EP has been jam-packed with huge hooks and electrifying production, we’re yet to see Chase the songwriter in full effect. With only one song remaining on the EP, is there room for him to strip it back and deliver another ‘Lonely If You Are’ or ‘Messy’ style ballad?
The answer comes resoundingly in the form of The Album Pt. II’s closer - ‘Belong’. For me, this is the real jewel in the crown, and is perfect for a world that has been put on pause. There’s no question that Chase can bring the party-starters and the anthems, but ‘Belong’ shows an incredible emotional depth, and showcases a side to the Country hitmaker that we have so far only seen in doses.
He questions modern-day issues such as cancel culture, and the charge that is often thrown at younger generations of being glued to their phones. He responds with the tongue-in-cheek observation that our phones take voice notes, and that’s how he writes his songs.
Chase repeats the chorus almost as a mantra - “We’re right where we belong” - and while the song seems to have been written pre-COVID-19, it is undoubtedly poignant for these times of anxiety and uncertainty about what the future holds. The destiny-fuelled theme of ‘Belong’ sends out a message of reassurance and hope (“Where we’re going, we don’t know/But we’re going there together”).
For anyone disappointed by the fact that there are only four songs on The Album Pt. II, compared to the seven that made the cut for the first instalment, Chase explained in my interview with him a few months ago why he wanted to keep his projects short:
“I feel like giving less music more often gives the songs more of an opportunity to have the life they deserve. If you drop fifteen at one time, you just choose three or four to listen to and never hear the rest…I’m not just releasing a single or two with five fillers, either - I wanted every song to be worthy of a single. That’s a big focus for me for The Album Pt. II”
In an era of streaming where we have everything at our fingertips, it’s good to be reminded that what really matters is quality, not quantity. Chase Rice’s The Album Pt. II might be short, but don’t let that fool you - it sure packs a punch.
The Album Pt. II is out on all platforms tomorrow, Friday 15th May.
Hello! I'm currently studying Philosophy & Theology at Oxford University, UK. Having always loved writing and music in equal measure, and having always hated decision-making, I figured hey, why do I need to choose between the two?