Chase Rice has reinvented his sound, and it is nothing like we have ever heard before from the platinum-selling performer. Rice previously provided fans with the cross-country ode “Key West & Colorado,” a single that serves as a preview into his next era and forthcoming record.
“I have become a pretty good singer in the last 10 years and never really showcased that,” Rice exclusively told CMT about his upcoming project. “It sounds more like me. You just haven’t heard me yet.”
For the first time in his career, Rice recorded alongside critically acclaimed producer Oscar Charles with no click track or pre-programmed music beds. Propelling the mainstream tools on the back burner and turning to classic instruments, allowed his raw country sound to shine through.
The sonic shift is evident in “Key West & Colorado.” His crystal clear vocals convey a thought-provoking narrative about an individual coming to terms with a breakup while airstreaming across stateliness. During the downtime on the open roads, the protagonist recognizes that everything happens for a reason and finds the courage to move forward.
“Somewhere between Key West & Colorado | I found God in a gold Silverado | Had to get a little lost to get a little found | Learned you can’t find love if you can’t slow down | Somewhere between that sand and the snow | Salt in the air and salt on the road | Finally let myself let her go | Somewhere between Key West & Colorado,” he effortlessly sings placing his traditional country twang on full display.
Rice co-wrote the emotion-driven single alongside Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley, Hunter Phelps, Corey Crowder, Blake Pendergrass, and John Byron on a writing retreat in sunny Florida. The hitmaker explained that the captivating hook intertwined with the comforting melody, perfectly embodies his upcoming stripped-back collection.
“To me, it’s the next phase of my career,” Rice pointed out. “‘Key West & Colorado’ is a good representation of this entire album as a whole. It’s the most mainstream song on the album, and that just shows that there’s not a lot of pop in it. It’s very raw production.”
In late February of 2021, Rice unintentionally gave Kelley the idea to pen the reflective track on social media. The Instagram post featured the “Eyes On You” singer sporting swim trunks in Colorado, which resembled a winter wonderland at the time. While vacationing in Key West, a blizzard swept through Nashville. Instead of fighting the storm in music city, the free-spirited vocalist decided to flee the white sand beaches to shred the picturesque slopes.
“A trip straight from Key West to Colorado, with only beach clothes, is not advisable,” Rice captioned the photograph that placed Kelley’s creative wheels in motion.
It wasn’t until the seaside songwriting session, that the decorated artist presented Rice with “Key West & Colorado” and his thought-out vision.
“That day, we were just going on a boat with Brian and he mentioned that we might write or chill, depending on the vibe. He [Brian Kelley] brought up the idea to me, because I posted it on my socials about a trip that I took from Key West to Colorado months before,” he explained to CMT. “He kind of already had something started. Within a few minutes, we turned it into what you kind of hear now. I loved the idea right away, just about a guy taking a trip to figure it out.”
The storyline resonated with Rice, and motivated him to retake the trip. The hitmaker started on the coast of Florida, touched the tip of Texas, and persevered until he reached the ‘welcome to Colorado’ sign. Rice documented his adventures on an old-school camera to bring the extraordinary journey to life.
“I went back and redid the trip after we wrote the song, just to show people my version of it,” he expressed. “I just took time alone, and we videoed it along the way. It’s not fancy…there’s some VHS footage in this video. We’re rolling from Florida to Colorado in an airstream,” he added about the music video slated to be released in less than two weeks.
Following the unplugged quest, the avid traveler opened his eyes. He recognized the importance of slowing down and prioritized his mental health. On the second trip, the single “Key West & Colorado” took on a new meaning.
“Taking time by myself is a huge deal. I try to do it often, which just allows me to clear my head and think about the good and not the bad. Just kind of start living life the way I want to live it, as opposed to always having energy sucked from me all the time,” said the chart-topping musician. “That’s what this trip was for me. It was just taking a trip that I had already done before, but doing it by myself and trying to move on with life and trying to do better.”
The raw song and authentic album would have never been born if it weren’t for the global health crisis that forced Rice to slow down. He clarified that COVID-19 taught him how to “take time” for himself and look beyond his old lifestyle.
“I’ve taken a break from the party scene, and you wouldn’t believe how much better life can be away from that. I am enjoying my days the way I want to enjoy them, and that’s traveling the world. Thankfully, my job allows me to travel. So, I am having a blast,” he added while laughing. “This album and the way it was recorded with Oscar Charles in my house and the way the songs were written, would’ve never happened without the pandemic.”
Rice recorded each melody tucked away in his farmhouse outside of Nashville during the height of the pandemic. The unexpected pause provided the chart-topping artist with the time to reflect, the chance to rekindle relationships, and the opportunity to hone in on his artistry in a way that he has never done before. Therefore, the hitmaker transformed his Tennessee home into a recording studio to develop his one-of-a-kind project. The singer-songwriter is destined to tug at heartstrings, as the 12 to 13-track collection addresses various topics.
Rice shared that Charles pushed his musical boundaries and encouraged him to step outside his comfort zone.
“It was incredible. He is extremely hungry and motivated, he’s up there with the best producers I have ever seen,” he uttered full of enthusiasm. “He gets in there, grinds, and doesn’t just try to do the same old thing. He did a really good job of listening to me and what I wanted. If I didn’t feel like we had something vocally, we didn’t just tweak it. He would say, ‘step up and sing it right.” We wanted to make everything great. He pushed me, and we pushed each other, it was crazy. This album brought my voice and songs to life in a way people have never heard before.”