Album Review: Chase Rice’s ‘Lambs & Lions’

Chase Rice fans have been waiting for a new album from the country artist for more than three years. After two flopped radio singles, “Whisper” and “Everybody We Know Does,” and a new label backing him, the “Three Chords and the Truth” singer is ready to deliver new music his own way with his sophomore full-length album Lambs & Lions.

“When you know what you can do and you’re not able to do it, it feels like a slap in the face. I felt like people were holding me back from the music I could create,” Rice told Rolling Stone when the news broke that he had parted ways with Columbia Nashville and signed with Broken Bow Records, home to Jason Aldean and Dustin Lynch. “That’s no way to live, and it’s weighed me down for a long time.”

The 11-track Lambs & Lions is a sign of musical and personal growth for Rice. Compared to his first album, Ignite the Night, his sophomore record focuses less on party songs and more toward faith, relationships and getting through the tough times. No Rice album would be complete though without some taste of fun, such as in the sole party-song “Jack Daniel’s Showed Up.” This project combines every side of him for one total body of work that explores the not-so-easy path he has been on since his first release.

The opening and title track, “Lions,” throws caution to the wind by incorporating haunting choirs chanting The Lord’s Prayer and adversely hones in on heavy-metal influences. The anthem is head-strong and claims a fierceness against adversity. The most rock-influenced sound on the record starts the project with a bang – though it might not be for everyone.

As the track list progresses, Rice relies more on his natural ability and less on over-production to portray his message. “Eyes On You” and “Saved Me” are touching love songs that display his maturity of navigating relationships and being more than content in them.

“Leave it to me to play the fool/Thinks numbing the pain makes you bulletproof/It takes a hell of a lie to lead to the truth/But letting go of all that means holding on to you,” the lyrics of “Saved Me” sweetly read.

The lead single off Lambs & Lions, “Three Chords and the Truth,” sings like an autobiography for the North Carolina native. The ode to country music speaks highly of small-town life while embracing coming-of-age. The relatable track is currently sitting in top 40 on Country Airplay charts.

“Amen” is the track Rice calls “the heart of the album,” a song about his father who passed away when the singer was just 22. The faith-based song reflects on his beliefs and his way of life. The tenderness in Rice’s vocals adds to the message of the song that you can tell hits very close to home for him.

The only track that Rice did not co-write on the record is the closing one, “This Cowboy’s Hat,” a cover of the Chris LeDoux classic. Rice invited LeDoux’s son, Ned, to be featured on the track that puts aside all differences to realize we are all in this crazy ride of life together.

The vulnerability Rice puts on display all throughout Lambs & Lions is a testament to his growth in the genre and shows promise of all that he has left to do. He has defined his artistry somewhere between bro-country and country-crooner, forging a path of his own that stays true to him and his natural talent.