Idol Chatter

ChrisRice_idol.jpgThose who follow Chris Rice will notice he’s growing up in a lot of ways, at least if his newest album, “What a Heart is Beating For” is any indication. It’s mellow, jazzy, reflective, and indicative of, well, the kind of mid-life stuff that mid-lifers face. He is faith-based and family-friendly–but the music is not evangelistic in any way and delightfully free of religious buzzwords of any kind.
Chris Rice has been called “A Christian James Taylor,” and while he has nothing close to Taylor’s guitar saavy and riffs, his album certainly has the gentle authenticity and breezy feel that can sneak into your heart and spirit. Missing are the cutesy and attention-getting “Clumsy,” “Cartoons” and “Smellin’ Coffee” of his earlier years, although “Lemonade” comes close as a playful-but-almost-out-of-place track on this summer release of music to which you can vegetate.

This one is full of the emerging Chris Rice: honest lyrics, mellow tunes. His music is growing up as he is growing up, reflected not only by its style but also its family-life lyrics, including lines like “love must keep fighting,” “you don’t have to yell,” “she gets a few feet away, and suddenly we’re both in slow motion like we’re alone in the deep blue ocean,” and “feel the wall of shame and run and hide.”
He almost apologizes for the pending mellowness of the album in “So Much For My Sad Song,” admitting (almost autobiographically) his desire for a rainy-day-sad song until “thinking of you” changes my “sorry attitude.”
“Pardon My Dust” is the disc’s highlight as an expression of intimacy, authenticity and forgiveness. “Why are you lookin’ at me this way, pointing the finger, shaking your hand,” the song says, the cry of every sinner becomes aware of his of shortcomings and need for unconditional love. “How ’bout some love along the way instead? Pardon my dust, excuse the place, I’ve left a trail of debris, so you’ve gotta be very careful with me,” sings the cry of what could be any spouse, teenager, or adult friend in need of someone to lean on.
The title track, “What a Heart is Beating For” is at best a slow heartbeat, as is the rest of the album (except for “Lemonade” and “Sneakin’ Into Heaven”). But if you like kickin’ back in a hammock with a calming reflective friend, this is as good as any.
Click here to listen to “Lemonade” and enter to win a copy of Chris Rice’s “What a Heart is Beating For”

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