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Chase Rice

Ignite the Night – 2014 (Dack Janiels)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by Chase Rice

Chase Rice lets listeners know exactly what to expect on his debut right from the opening sounds of first single and opener, the hit "Ready Set Roll." Electronic beats and a robotic voice start off a bro country track with plenty of hip hop flourishes and simplistic lyrics like "ready set let's ride, get your little fine ass on the step, shimmy up inside." Rice was a co-writer on Florida Georgia Line's smash hit "Cruise," which is also a fine indicator of what listeners can expect to hear. This is music marketed at teenage suburban white girls who think Luke Bryan is the biggest country superstar to ever exist.

To be fair, when Rice sings, he proves that he has the voice to back up the songs that he's written. On the obligatory beach song ("Beach Town"), he tones down the hip hop and channels his soulful country side. Both "Carolina Can" and "Jack Daniels & Jesus" are well sung country songs. His contribution to the "look-at-how-country-I-am" list song, "Look at My Truck" is a decent track, although the weird electronic zaps in the background can be distracting. If you ignore the cheesy pickup line concept of the lyrics, "What's Your Name" is an interesting track, with heavy drumbeats and strong harmonies. His second track to feature the hip hop slang of rolling in the title ("How She Rolls") is heavy with predictable platitudes ("what's up?") over cheesy rapping.

Some of the titles are cringe worthy, such as "MMM Girl," "We Goin' Out," "U Turn" and "Gonna Wanna Tonight." Occasionally the lyrics are even worse, effectively eclipsing the shock of Brad Paisley's horrid "Accidental Racist." The strangest thing is that Rice shows that he can write a good, solid country song at various points, yet he willfully records fashionable hip hop songs with lyrics that sound like they were written by a third grader.

This particular sub-genre of country is currently enjoying massive mainstream chart success. There is a large fan base that will love what Rice has done on his latest, and there are just as many who will despise it. This is a solid contribution to the ever-expanding bro country scene, but it is disappointing to hear his serious songwriting contributions alongside beat heavy, lyrical intelligence light sell out tracks. At his finest, Rice deserves to be mentioned alongside current artists like Jake Owen and Lee Brice, but his low points drag him down into a country music caricature like Florida Georgia Line.