Album Review – Chase Rice’s “I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go To Hell”
Is country music truly experiencing a transformational moment? Is this moment really touching most every sector of country, including some of the most corrupted corners of the mainstream? If this new selection from Chase Rice is any sort of bellwether, then the answer would be in the affirmative. Is it “good”? Of course, that question is subjective. Is it an improvement from what we’ve come to expect from this specific artist? Absolutely. Does this symbolize a broadening and entrenching of positive trends in country music including better quality and more country-sounding songs? Yes it does.
Don’t misunderstand this as a glowing recommendation for the album itself. There are multiple criticisms for this work that will be enumerated shortly. Also don’t assume anyone has gone soft, or that the wool is being pulled over anyone’s eyes. After all, Chase Rice was a co-writer on Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” which ushered in the Bro-Country era in earnest. If there was a Bro-Country Mount Rushmore, Chase Rice would be on it, right beside the Beavis and Butthead of Florida Georgia Line, and Brantley Gilbert.
But all of this is what makes an album like this important to regard, and quite remarkable. The thing about these mainstream guys is that you never truly know who they are once you strip away all of the Music Row marketing and packaging. Of course Chase Rice isn’t some troubled soul like one of your favorite Americana songwriters. He’s still the waxed chest contestant on Survivor turned Nashville hit writer. But could the death of his father reshape his perspective and priorities to where he wants to start releasing music with more meaning? Sure it could.
Chase Rice claims this is the album that he’s always wanted to make, and there’s no reason to not take him at his word. After all, as a performer, he’s always been on the third tier, so it’s not like he has a ton to lose by taking a risk. He may not be super talented, but he’s not stupid either. Chase sees where the trends of things are going, and it’s in the opposite direction of what his early career embodied. So why not release an album of more quality songs, and something for yourself, and sure, seed it with a few radio singles just to keep the label from shutting you down?
In some respects, Chase Rice didn’t give up on the formulaic songwriting, he just shifted the focus from modern to classic. There’s a song on here about moonshining, another about losing your dog, one about letting down momma, and another that evokes geography in “Key West and Colorado” that reminds you of all those classic late 80s and early ’90s country songs that do the same. The song “Bad Day to be A Cold Beer” has been written in one incarnation or another probably 100 times now. But the reason it keeps getting written is because it tends to work.
And don’t worry, the little buzzy radio friendly words and phrases that tend to sour so many songs find their way into a few of these tracks. A snake can shed its skin, but it’s still a snake. The music is also only country in close approximations, with some exceptions. Even Chase Rice at his best can’t resist dropping inane beer references into an otherwise decent track, like The Natty Light callout in the surprisingly heartfelt “Life Part of Livin’.”
But listening to this album is an experience in being regularly surprised. “Bench Seat” is another song that has been done before, and probably better than this one, but still is way too good of a song to have any business being on a Chase Rice record, let alone being written by Chase himself. The last time we heard Chase Rice reference truck seats, it was commanding some girl to “Get ya little fine ass on the step, shimmy up inside” in his terrible single “Ready, Set, Roll.”
“I Walk Alone” almost sounds like something you’d hear from early Lucero, with a Ben Nichols quality to Rice’s voice. Chase shared management with folks in the Texas/Red Dirt music scene for a while. The nearly 8-minute collaboration with the Read Southall Band on the song “Oklahoma” maybe shouldn’t surprise us. It’s not spectacular and more rock than country, but it’s once again stretches our expectations from Chase. Maybe it’s rubbing elbows with some of these more independent folks that has resulted in an album like this.
There is also some pretty terrible stuff. “Sorry Momma” tries to find inspiration from Merle Haggard, but only results in bad Bro-Country mimicry. “If I Were Rock & Roll” is a backsliding version of Chase Rice too, and of course was picked as a radio single. And this whole “I Hate Cowboys” and “All Dogs Go To Hell” gimmick feels a little trite. It’s as if for sarcasm to work in the mainstream, they have to make it supremely obvious while giving themselves too much credit for being clever. But as a songwriting mechanism, there are most certainly worse ones, especially from the Chase Rice catalog.
It’s album reviews like these that commonly get grossly misunderstood as being promotional to otherwise mild mainstream artists. But the premise of Saving Country Music has always been to challenge the mainstream with spirited criticism in hopes for more constructive outcomes for all consumers of country music. An album like this from Chase Rice portends a continued improvement for music in the country mainstream. It still may not be something independent or traditional country consumers may enjoy. But it symbolizes growth in how independent and traditional country music is influencing the mainstream toward the positive.
Meanwhile, if you’re a mainstream country fan looking to have your opinions validated about the quality of this album, you can feel justified. “Cruise” was released over 10 years ago. Chase Rice has grown up, so has his fans, and so has popular country music. It’s the folks trying to act perpetually 22 that are the problem. Chase Rice and this album are far from that. It’s a maturing, and a testament to the truth that you can always grow and challenge yourself, not matter where you started from.
1 1/4 Guns Up (6.8/10)
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This article has been updated.
February 14, 2023 @ 9:08 am
I didn’t mind this album, it was certainly a decent listen that was miles ahead of his previous work. I know you mentioned how “Bad Day to be a Cold Beer” has been done 100s of times, and I completely agree. It seems to me, though, to be an almost direct copy of Eric Church’s “Drink in my hand,” right down to almost all of the same melodies and sounds. Did anyone else hear that?
But again, compared to his last decade of work, this was a marked improvement and if this is what radio country could be, I’ll take it as a continued sign of changing of the guard.
February 15, 2023 @ 8:40 am
You are absolutely right that song is a near carbon copy of drink in my hand lol
February 14, 2023 @ 9:18 am
I downloaded it on the strength of the album cover alone. Giving it a listen now. Never heard of this guy before.
February 14, 2023 @ 10:19 am
You’re one of the lucky ones. If you don’t want to be sorely disappointed I would not suggest a deeper dive into his earlier stuff.
February 14, 2023 @ 12:48 pm
Respectfully both of the new songs posted here blow ass – just to a lesser degree. Florida Georgia Line popularized the forcefully grating vocals that Morgan Wallen, Hardy, and Chase Rice all use.
Just because the whore showed back up at church that doesn’t mean she deserves to preach.
February 14, 2023 @ 9:20 am
The last two paragraphs are spot on
February 14, 2023 @ 9:21 am
To be honest, “Bench Seat” made me burst into tears when I first heard it and then saw the video. Having lost my dog recently, it’s been a truly powerful moment, and I must admit that I had to look twice because I thought it wasn’t the same Chase Rice that I used to hate.
Great review as always !
February 14, 2023 @ 9:35 am
Hold up. How many more songs are gonna be released with the title “Bad Day to be a (Cold) Beer?” Colby Acuff, Drake Milligan, and now this one. Strange.
Keepin’ it Country
February 14, 2023 @ 12:06 pm
Must be bad to be a beer…
February 15, 2023 @ 9:26 pm
The beer deserved it.
February 14, 2023 @ 3:58 pm
I misread Colby as Roy. Now I’m genuinely disappointed that Roy Acuff doesn’t have a song called “Bad Day to be a Cold Beer”.
February 14, 2023 @ 4:40 pm
Sorry if I disappointed ya, Buck.
Country Charley Crockett's Butter
February 14, 2023 @ 11:04 am
Trig will you be listening to all those songs from mullet boy next month? If so, I feel bad for you son. I got 36 problems but those songs ain’t them. 😅🤣😂
On a related note, I should check this Chase Rice album out. This seems like a personal passion project for him.
February 14, 2023 @ 2:32 pm
Definitely not looking forward to it, if only for the time commitment. But I’m sure I’ll be listening.
February 15, 2023 @ 8:59 am
I’m not getting good vibes about Wallen either. But what I’ve heard of the 18 tracks Luke Combs will have on his “Gettin’ Old” album a couple of weeks later sounds like a huge step up from “Growin’ Up.”
February 16, 2023 @ 9:19 am
Maybe a hot take, but “Everything I Love” is sort of good. The other two releases are not good.
February 14, 2023 @ 12:38 pm
I’ve got a 2 yr old border collie and my main car is 23 years old with bench seats. Stopped listening to ‘Bench Seat’ once it hit the “Whoa oooo Whoa oooo” part. That clique is in every other modern bro country ballad.
This song doesn’t have a good melody or hook. It’s still the same old meandering, regurgitated bro country verbiage disappointment that forces me to admit that I don’t listen to terrestrial country radio.
February 14, 2023 @ 3:25 pm
Ernest’s Two Dozen Roses release has to be the highlight from this week
I was a fan of Flower Shops, but this still exceeded my expectations. There isn’t a skip anywhere among the 13 new songs.
February 14, 2023 @ 4:53 pm
I’ll cheers to that. He may capitalize every letter and only go by one name…. But flower shops blew Chase out of the water
February 14, 2023 @ 6:07 pm
Decent, and that is a huge step forward for Chase.
I sense a trend of second- and third-tier artists trying to reinvent themselves as Cody Johnson Lite or Zach Bryan Lite or Lainey Wilson Lite, or newly signed artists following one of those paths. Bailey Zimmerman is going the Bryan route. Scotty McCreery seems to be hell-bent on becoming George Strait/Ronnie Dunn Lite. I can think of many worse trends that could be happening. I don’t even mind some of the introspective singer/songwriter stuff that women like Kelsea Ballerini and Ingrid Andress are putting out. OK, much of it is not really country, but it’s music that doesn’t send me screaming from the room or (thankfully) car. There’s still some awful stuff on country radio now, and will always be — just as there was in those previous eras that we rhapsodize about here — but I’m enjoying my time on the highway with the radio on a lot more this decade than I have since the mid-’90s.
February 14, 2023 @ 6:16 pm
I was thinking the same thing about the inevitable wave of Zach Bryan copycats that are surely coming down the pike soon.
February 14, 2023 @ 6:23 pm
So sorry to interrupt such a conversation. Trigger I have deep feeling, like many of us, Waylon is one of your favourites. Between AUS & USA there’s a time difference, however I’m wondering if you would be in a position to acknowledge Waylons 21st year of passing.
February 14, 2023 @ 7:03 pm
Sometimes I mark Waylon’s passing or the passing of other greats with a post if there is something that is timely or relevant. This year I just didn’t really have anything. But you are right, in many respects, Waylon is a “favorite,” not just for the music, but his actions of fighting the Music Row system that have very much gone on to influence the approach of this website. So please don’t take my silence on the anniversary as not caring.
February 15, 2023 @ 7:06 am
I’ve only heard a few songs from this, but sounds pretty much like the rest of his music. Seems more a change of the accompaniments than the actual songs. Like they sat in the studio and deleted the bro-country guitars and replaced with acoustic, delete the hip hop drum beat and replace with country beat, and add other country elements like steel or fiddle until it sounds traditional – ish.
Nothing to see here but another new formula being tried to keep Chase on the radio until the next new thing comes along.
February 15, 2023 @ 8:24 am
The Bro country scene is recognizing how that sound is falling off, trigger has spent plenty of time detailing that change. These guys are all just carpetbaggers now finding their “true country” roots. More marketing BS to sell records. More power to them as I would do what ever to chase the money too but let’s cool the jets on acting like this is good stuff. If suddenly the charts started showing country jazz was trending he would be releasing jazzy country songs.
February 15, 2023 @ 9:54 am
Very intrigued by “jazzy country” tbh hahaha
February 15, 2023 @ 2:10 pm
Check out Stacy Antonel
February 15, 2023 @ 4:47 pm
As i said in the review, there is no doubt a calculation behind this approach by Chase Rice. But to cast it all off as carpetbagging and marketing I think is a bit unfair. No marketeer on Music Row told Chase Rice it was a good idea to put his dead Marlboro Man-looking father on the cover of his album. I don’t think it’s fair to be completely dismissive of Chase’s motivations to put out an album with a bit more meaning here.
February 15, 2023 @ 8:42 am
The Weight of These Wings got .2 more points than this album from you. California Sunrise ranked .3 points lower. Gold Chain Cowboy .2 more points. Just interesting observations, this one ranks pretty high around albums that are subjectively (but probably objectively) better.
February 15, 2023 @ 4:49 pm
All comments like this do is discourage me from wanting to put grades on my album reviews. There are many factors that go into a grade, including the improvement from the artist individually, of which Chase scored very high on. As always, the written content of the review is what conveys the true feelings about the work.
February 15, 2023 @ 9:28 am
This album is garbage and the video for Bench Seat is unbearably corny.
February 15, 2023 @ 4:42 pm
In no way is this a criticism of the wonderful author of the article, but the reviews that are focused around one small win for main stream country just don’t strike any heart strings or brain strings. The songs were written with a formula and the formula sucks. A win for main stream country is yet another loss for country itself. This crap is nothing but recycled dumb guy melodies with an idea sprinkled so heavy with trigger words that it is impossible for the astute ear to find its way through to any real substance. I would be surprised if that southern accent is nowhere near as strong in his normal conversation behind closed doors. This is simply the polar opposite of true art.
February 15, 2023 @ 9:52 pm
Reviews like this one are very much appreciated, and are sometimes more important in my opinion than the ones we know and expect to be great from artists that are considered darlings of Saving Country Music.
You can certainly fault Chase for his past output, but if we were to dismiss this album it would be doing a disservice to the intentions behind the it and the introspective nature of it. There may be some bad songs on this album, but there are more good ones, and to be honest it’s an album the artist should be proud of. You can tell it is personal, even if there may be a shallowness to some of the songs compared to the depth we are sometimes used to finding here.
There is a lot of pessimism about modern country music in general, but an album like this from an artist as much maligned as Chace is not just surprising, but welcomed.
This is the type of album that gives some hope for the future of mainstream county, that at the very least reminds you that reaching out of your comfort zone and taking a chance with your ears can lead to a surprising and enjoyable listen.
Great review Trigger
February 16, 2023 @ 6:33 am
Before this article I was one of the lucky ones who never heard of him.
Wish I’d kept it that way. Couldn’t even get through half of this album. If this is his “better” album, I’ll be sure to keep avoiding him.
February 16, 2023 @ 8:24 am
i don’t like midgets, antique furniture, or this album
February 21, 2023 @ 10:39 am
Oh, good. I want to get Jelly Roll tickets and was bummed that the Vegas date has him instead of Ashley McBryde as the opener. Hopefully he will stick to the new album…
June 7, 2023 @ 8:32 am
I don’t know how to put it any better than this: it’s great to be yourself, but some peoples selves aren’t very complicated
I don’t think this is particularly insincere on behalf of Chase Rice. I do think it’s heartfelt, but I think this is about the extent of what his heart feels
He’s not a complicated, introspective guy with tons of insight building experiences. He’s a pretty run-of-the-mill dude who’s had a pretty run-of-the-mill, normal, suburban, life, exactly the sort of person who probably listen to Eminem and George Strait on the same playlist.
It’s not fake, it’s the kind of real that only appeals to people who want their own lifestyles told back to them. The sort of same, be around Friday people who grew up in the same town, 10 years later, they were in the same town, driving the same trucks, hanging out at the same bars.
People who want their own culture and lifestyle given back to them will love it. People who use art to find new experiences, aren’t going to appreciate it.