Is there anybody in country music better prepared than Chase Rice to write their autobiography? In other walks of life, he's been a D1 college football player, a pit crew member of an elite NASCAR team and a runner-up on TV's "Survivor." Honorable mention should go to the fact he had a hand in writing Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise," a little ditty that spent close to a half-year at number one. In his day job as a fairly seasoned musical artist, Rice starts 2020 with a seven-song preview of an album to come.
The record has a boring name, to be certain. But it's still indicative of a certain lack of imagination on the actual content. Although Rice hails from Asheville, N.C. - a notable music scene with plenty of flavors - the EP doesn't stretch convention much. Opener "American Nights" sets the phasers to DJ-pop, over tales of lost, young souls the music assures us aren't that sad. Time and again ("Everywhere" and "Best Night Ever"), the listener might think they put a Sam Hunt record on by mistake. Stay far away if you're not into the current trend of singers who sultry-talk through at least half of their lyrics.
There's still some strong material here: "Lonely If You Are" fuses a simple acoustic guitar and some R&B handclaps into a swaying, welcoming groove. "Forever To Go" works the very best of the set, a simple love song that moves and inspires. Rice can carry a tune - it's just a shame how often he chooses not to. It sure would be a hoot to revisit the partying-anthem styles of 2012's "Dirt Road Communion" with tracks like "I Like Drinking, It's Fun." There are several tracks with strong potential here. But "The Album" sure would benefit from an identity of its own, and it's not much fun.