Chase Rice’s The Album is not an album yet — at least not in the conventional terms. But it is growing.
Rice releases The Album Part II on May 15 via BBR Music Group. The set adds four more songs — including “Down Home Runs Deep,” premiering below — to the seven on the surprise-released The Album Part I, which debuted at No. 1 on the Country Albums chart following its January release.
Rice, who scored a No. 1 Country Airplay hit in 2018 with “Eyes on You,” promises there will be a Part III, and while he envisions packaging them all into a full-length album down the line, he’s still enjoying the small-chunk approach to releasing music.
“Man, I just love where I am right now,” Rice tells Billboard. “This is allowing me to put together this album, which I believe is the best music I’ve ever put out. And doing it a few songs at a time, people can really focus on ’em and get to know them rather than when you put them all out at once and some fall between the cracks.”
Part II certainly gives Rice fans a wide range to consume, from the contemporary, hip-hop tinged pop blend of “You” to the ebullient, anthemic roll of “Break Up Drunk” and the swelling, Celtic ambience of “Belong.” “The crazy thing, even more than differentiating from Part I, is the four songs are really different from each other,” Rice says. “None of them sound like the other songs, which I think is cool. All of them have their own identity.” He considers “Down Home Runs Deep,” meanwhile, as “probably my favorite song on Part II,” with plenty of nostalgia drawn from Rice’s own life.
“It just takes me back to my high school days and the type of stuff me and my buddies would’ve listened to driving around, doing crazy stuff,” Rice says of the track, written by Daniel Ross, Michael Hardy, Mike Walker and James McNair. “My home town, Fairview, N.C., was a small town. We’d drive around, make stuff up, got to each other’s houses — definitely the one house where the parents were a little more slack about letting some girls come over. I played it for one of my best friends, Matt, from high school, and he said, ‘Dude, that takes me back, too,’ which made me happy.”
Rice says he has songs ready to go for The Album Part III — among them “Drinking Beer, Talking God, Amen,” “Love You Anywhere,” “Can We Still Be Friends” and “The Night,” the latter of which he calls “one of my favorites I’ve ever done.” There’s no release date set for that yet, however, or when The Album will be out as a whole. Rice is also planning to release acoustic versions of Part I and Part II, with the release date pending.
Rice will also be celebrating Part II’s release at 6 p.m. EST on May 15 on his with a full-band, socially distanced acoustic performance on his Facebook and Instagram pages. And like everybody else he’s waiting for the green light to start hitting the road again for live shows.
“I needed the break more than I thought I did…but, man, I’m ready to play, and I know everybody else is, too,” says Rice, who’s slated to be part of Rascal Flatts’ Life Is A Highway Tour this summer. “As soon as states or counties or whoever let us, I’m gonna go play — just as long as it’s legal and there’s guidelines and everything. Hopefully we can piece together some shows, and we’ll let American people decide whether to come or not. I think a lot of people need right now is live music entertainment, so that’s what we’re gonna do, as soon as we can.”