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Albums | Chase Rice - I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go To Hell

Het is er (bijna) allemaal: die typische 'country twang', teksten bomvol country clichés, de oorwurmen gesneden op maat van country radio, niet de Stetson maar een baseball cap... kortom: allemaal elementen die ons hier zo doen huiveren en country & western mijden als de pest.

En toch voel ik een héél pak meer voor de man (zijn muziek) dan bv. voor grote namen als Toby Keith, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Keith Urtban, etc. Allemaal 'bro country' sterren die een pak bekender zijn, ook al brengt Rice nu zijn vijfde album uit en kan hij terugkijken op méér dan 2 miljoen verkochte exemplaren. Waarom? Eigenlijk vrij simpel: Rice kleurt een stuk meer buiten de conventionele lijntjes van het genre, is eigenlijk in hart en nieren een rocker en kiest voor zijn nummers ook steevast die instrumenten gebruikelijk in rockmuziek.

Geen overdaad aan fiddles dus, geen pedal steel gejank, wel elektrische (en akoestische natuurlijk) gitaren, véél gitaren, soms erg 'luide' gitaren. Op de occasionele banjo na, maar die klinkt dan ook lekker 'metal'. Dan gaan die goed in het oor liggende songs ook vlot binnen bij me. Temeer die stem ook een pak rijker is dan wat er gewoonlijk te horen valt binnen c&w: Rice heeft namelijk een leuke 'gravel' die regelmatig opduikt en het luisteren een stuk boeiender maakt.

Het album start zoals je zou verwachten met twee nummers kant en klaar voor de radio en zo staan er een pak op dit album dat over de grote plas erg goed zal verkopen. Way Down Yonder echter is een ferme barnstomper die groots genoeg uitpakt om arena's en festivalweides op hun kop te zetten. Met Key West & Colorado en Bench Seat laat hij dan de obligate ballads horen, maar wel van het sterke soort, niet die kleffe plakkers.

Net wanneer het gevoel opduikt dat Rice wel erg formulaïsch tewerk gaat, komt met Oklahoma een song die op zich al de aanschaf van dit album rechtvaardigt. Een slow burner waarbij alle vermelde troeven samen komen. De vroege Eagles komen om de hoek piepen, maar het is de samenwerking met de Read Southall Band - uit, jawel, Oklahoma - die voor de sublieme kers op de taart zorgt: je krijgt zalige whistles, stuwende drums, sfeervol galmende gitaren en dan... een méér dan drie minuten durende epische gitaarsolo om van te snoepen. Man wat is dit een straf nummer! De perfectie benaderend!

I Walk Alone biedt daarna een rustmoment, al 'knalt' die geheel onverwacht naar het slot toe even. Daarna grijpt hij terug naar de eerder gebruikte formule, t.t.z. meer traditionele country, zij het dan hier met een schitterend pianogetokkel (Sorry Momma) en daar opnieuw met snijdende gitaren (het afsluitende I Hate Cowboys).

Naast een leuke titel serveert Chase Rice ons een mooi boeket aan country songs die regelmatig knipogen naar country rock en zelfs wat southern rock, zonder de saus al te dik te maken. Een zéér geslaagde nummer vijf wat mij betreft.

Releasedatum: 10 februari 2023



Human evolution is an individual journey, unique to each of us, and nobody walks the same path to the present. Some folks are born with abounding self-confidence, and never question who they are or where they’re going. A dogged belief in self is an undeniable force, mowing down everything in its way, like a runaway bush hog in an open hayfield toward the desired outcome. Those folks are rarest kind. Michael Jordan. Dale Earnhardt. Waylon. Those guys. Indomitable. And the indomitable aren’t all high achievers, either. Quite the contrary. You don’t have to be wealthy or famous to be authentic. In fact, I’ve learned that wealth and acclaim have a distinct way of erasing authenticity. If we’re being honest, most of us are insecure and seek avenues for validation in the quest for fulfillment. Validation can be fleeting. Because once we find that validation based on professional successes, we fear change or evolution. We smother it, scared half to damn death we’ll lose it. And in that process, we lose ourselves. That’s kind of what happened to me. Back up a minute. When I moved to Nashville, I didn’t have a place to live, so I crashed on a couch at Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley’s place. Y’all know them as Florida Georgia Line. They’ve been friends of mine since I got to town all those years ago – Brian even longer; we grew up together. That couch was hideous; three cushion, floral print. Eventually I moved into the third room in their apartment, and one night a bunch of us were drinking whiskey and passing a guitar around, and “Cruise” happened. Just… happened. Somebody strummed a melody. Somebody else sang the opening line. It was a runaway freight train. We wrote that thing in 30 minutes. A year later it was the hugest single in the history of country music. It was everywhere. And it was a colossal blessing and a troubling curse, all at once. It jumpstarted our careers and the rest of our lives. But it skewed our reality. BK and Tyler were on top of the world. They were really good. I wasn’t yet. But I went full throttle down the road they traveled because I saw how deeply it impacted their lives, the lives of generations of their family members. And if we’re being honest, they changed country music. It was an intoxicating time. I wrote and performed with that template. But I wasn’t me. I knew it, yet I denied it. There was a void in my daily walk, and my creativity was spent trying to be something I’m not. Live the image, not a life. Money over memories. Then COVID happened and everything changed for me. Suddenly I couldn’t tour. I was stuck at home like the rest of the world. The road was all I knew, and when the pandemic hit, I had no choice but to be still. I couldn’t live that prior narrative. It was just me and me. No one to impress. Rather than live fearfully, I lived faithfully. I embraced the silence. I immersed in the solitude. And my creativity was authentic. It felt real. I picked up a guitar with my coffee in the morning and with my beer in the evening. I watched sunrises and sunsets. Wherever my heart led I followed. And for the first time in my adult life, I didn’t feel beholden to an image. It was so liberating. And songs appeared, not inspired by what I thought people wanted to hear, but from what I wanted to say. I’d never had the self-confidence to say what I wanted to say, to be the person I wanted to be. It’s easy to say that’s who you are, however it’s scary sometimes to genuinely live your truth regardless of outside expectation. That’s why this record is so important. It is my truth and this moment in my life. And I did not want to be afraid to take it too far. This record is all those sunrises and sunsets and road trips and firepits distilled into 13 chapters of my journey, which reveal pieces of myself I hid in plain sight for years. Even from myself at times. It is quite different from anything you’ve ever heard from me – and it’s the proudest I’ve ever been of a body of work. The album begins with a universal truth as old as time: true love is undeniable. These days we’re distracted, and there are a million avenues to accelerate those distractions, so we’re oftentimes successful in deflecting emotion. It troubles me, the lack of desire to be rooted in however we feel. But no matter how deeply we may want to deny love, love wins. I was considering the power of that fact one day in Nashville and started writing “Walk That Easy.” I knew what I wanted to say and was inching closer, but it came to life when I got to Alabama to write with some friends. They helped bring it into focus for me. Once we got it, I wanted to hear over and over. That’s rare. It’s a timeless message, and it’ll make for one hell of a good show opener, and my hope is that it’s a good driving song for those who need to define those feelings. From there, I move from one brand of love to another to illustrate how powerful and consuming it can be to watch love leave. “All Dogs Go To Hell” is a risky title, I get it. Yet when it hit me half asleep at dawn one morning, I shot up and wrote it down, because it drives home how backwards it is when she leaves. And the song only gets more backwards from there. The Devil Went Down To… Florida? Dawgs yellin’ Roll Tide? For all of y’all who are ready to beat my ass for this one, just listen close and sing along. “Way Down Yonder” is a heater. A lengthy departure from what I’ve done before, which, again, was something I was chasing on this project. Keep ‘em guessing. I didn’t even want “Yonder” on the album for a while. I didn’t feel it until one day Rob McNelley -- who was part of the Oscar Charles-led crew that set up shop at my house for two weeks to record this album -- started picking that carnival sound on the acoustic. Suddenly, we had a killer Western vibe going, and this song went from a throwaway to one of my favorite songs we’ve ever written. I can’t wait to see how this plays live. Sometimes in this life, invisible emotional barriers jail our potential. Relationships. Memories. Obligations. Expectations. They define us with limitations we don’t even know we’re accepting. At least that’s what happened to me. I went on a trip once that provided lasting memories, which eventually began to write my daily walk, in detrimental ways. So, I took another trip in search of an eraser. “Key West & Colorado” provides both ends of the pencil: One erased the old; one rewrote the new. I hope you can relate. “Bench Seat” is special and, in my humble opinion, it’s the best song I’ve ever written (and I wrote this one by myself). It is very personal. A friend of mine once pointed his own .45 at his temple, ready to take his life. He looked down and saw his dog, Butters, looking at him quizzically with that concerned doggy head-tilt. It instantly injected my friend with perspective on his true reality. He was loved. I wrote “Bench Seat” from Butters’ perspective about the immense power of mutual unconditional love. That dog saved my friend’s life; hopefully my dog, Jack, would say the same, because he saved me, too. As I said before, I’ve learned over the years that love is our most powerful emotion. “Life Part of Livin’” is a reminder that when you have love in your life, embrace it. Protect it. Respect it. With everything you got. Even if it’s all you got, you’re doing alright. One day at Troubadour Golf Club here in Nashville, multi-time PGA Champion Justin Thomas walked up to me and said 10 words: “Boys, it’s a bad day to be a cold beer.” He wasn’t wrong. Justin’s proclamation provided me a belly laugh and writing (and consumption) motivation. Somehow, JT managed to win that round, but that day was the most fun I’ve ever had on the golf course and we have his one-liner to thank for “Bad Day To Be A Cold Beer.” Out in Texas they do country their own way, and it’s a sound and an attitude I really love. It was that middle-finger-in-the-air Texas approach that produced “Can’t Leave Oklahoma.” I was supposed to go down to Texas to meet a girl for New Year’s Eve, but that quickly went south, and I wound up in Oklahoma for five days bird hunting with some of the best hunters on Earth. Cody Cannon from Whiskey Myers showed up and I got to hear him play “The Wolf,” from their Tornillo album, acoustic. It was unbelievable. We were passing songs back and forth and it was a very inspirational energy for me. I tried to inject that energy into the mysterious, yearning vibe of this song, which juxtaposes a cowboy’s desire to roam with his loyalty to home. Speaking of roaming, I’ve always been something of a wanderer. And if I’m being honest, in many cases I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going -- or why. So, when Josh Hoge sent me a song he’d started with a new writer named Jaxson Free called “Walk Alone,” it was instantly relatable. I loved it immediately. I wanted to use the second verse metaphorically to anchor the album, because for me this album is akin to summiting a mountain. This is an intense track, and another favorite for me on this record. A lot of you guys know about my relationship with my dad, and how much losing him way too soon shaped me as a person. But my mom is an angel, and I wanted to take a moment to make sure she knows it. She raised three boys – that alone deserves a halo. “Sorry Momma,” we love you. One of the themes on this record is writing from opaque perspectives, seeing the world through another’s eyes. “If I Were Rock & Roll” does just that. My favorite part of this song is the third line, the American Flag reference. One of my really good friends who participated in THE raid, Operation Neptune Spear, had a Velcro flag pressed to his chest his entire career, for every deployment he made defending our freedom. One night at dinner he gave me that flag. It’s beat to hell, tattered and worn and soiled. It is one of my most-prized possessions. Another theme I chose this time is reverse psychology. I’m not sure what’s crazier (stupider?), saying you hate cowboys, or that all dogs go to hell! I don’t actually hate cowboys – I’m really close with a bunch of them. But damnit, it pisses me off when Mr. Steal Your Girl kicks open the saloon door with that hat and those Wranglers, and he can two-step better than you, talk cooler than you, drink more than you… you get the idea. “I Hate Cowboys” is an ode to the fact that girls fall for it every damn time…hell, I do, too. I’ve been in every bar in this country, or at least I feels like I have. And every one of them has a lady who works the bar or never misses a Friday night. She’s like the neon light above the bar, glowing as soon as you walk in there. “Goodnight Nancy” was born at the legendary Flora-Bama for us. I love that bar and have a million memories stashed away in its corners. And I love Nancy. Karen: move over, it’s Nancy’s turn and she’s a bad mama jama. Alright, there you have it. That’s I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go To Hell. I wouldn’t use Dad on the album cover unless it was a work that I know he’d enjoy and be proud of. And I know he’d be proud of this record. To all of you who have believed in me, even when I wasn’t earning it, thank you. This is me. I had to point my compass in another direction this time, because it never seemed to lead to my true north. It was erratic and unreliable. Now it’s locked in, pointed where I believe I belong. I hope you like this album as much as I do. But if you don’t, that’s okay, too. It’s me. So, I’m good with whatever comes. - Chase


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