Chase Rice may be a typical country boy. Still, he hopes that Lions & Lambs might begin to set him apart from the so-called “bro country” reputation he’s earned. That’s because the fourth studio album from this Survivor alumni pushes back against his previous party-boy persona that his old record label praised.
That’s what he says, at least.
Rice said of his major label debut in 2014, Ignite the Night, “I didn’t have a clue what I was doing on that record. I was just throwing a bunch of stuff on a wall and seeing what stuck.” This time around, however, what’s “stuck” has been Rice’s desire to rehab his image, with the singer saying, “They’re finally going to see the me I want them to see.”
And what are we to see? The album’s title offers a telling clue. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Rice said that it reflects a man “who is both vulnerable and strong; a lion who is not ashamed of the lamb within.”
“Lions” opens with a group of men reciting the Lord’s prayer in its entirety, and showcases the unapologetic and “lionesque” demeanor of Rice and his fierce peers: “Ain’t no cage that can hold us/Ain’t no hate that can fold us/Well there’s lambs and there’s lions/We are lions.” Meanwhile, “Amen” empathizes empathy and unity: “Maybe your granddad kept his dogtags hanging on the rearview/… If it sounds like it could’ve been you, or it’s somewhere you might’ve been/Can I get an amen?”
The unmistakable scent of love fills “Eyes On You,” where Rice tells a woman, “No matter where we go/No matter what we do/If you’re there girl, I’ve got my eyes on you.” “Saved Me” recognizes how a woman’s positive influence has prompted a guy to relinquish his bad habits: “Leave it to me, you play the fool/ … But letting go of all of that means holding on to you.”
“One Love, One Kiss, one Drink, One Song” reminds us that letting go of the past can be difficult (“And you know, I really thought I was moving on/’Til that George Strait song came on.”) “Unforgettable,” discusses the permanent place a specific woman has in Rice’s mind: “I would’ve never let you go/Had I known that you’d be so unforgettable/Unforgettable, unforgettable.” Other lyrics in that track hint at his regret for getting physical too quickly with this woman, as well as saying that she had a reminiscing about her “beautiful soul.”
“Three Chords & The Truth” describes how music can be a powerful motivator and unifier: “It’s the reason why/A kid from Carolina would drive to Nashville to chase a dream/…Why we all stop when we hear that one and she whispers turn it up.”
Fellow country singer Ned LeDoux is featured in a classic remake of “This Cowboy’s Hat.” It’s got a feel that’s similar to Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and the story focuses on a group of bikers who threaten to take a cowboy’s signature accoutrement: his hat. His response? “You’ll ride a black tornado, cross the western sky/… Long before you take this cowboy’s hat.”
“Saved Me” admits a litany of self-destructive habits: “Most of the time, I can’t shut my d–n mouth/… I’ve lived on the dark side/… I smoke and drink too much/… Living on the edge, falling fast and hard.” But that admirable self-awareness doesn’t seem to translate to self-control.
Rice implies that putting old lovers in the rear-view mirror for good is nearly impossible on “One Love, One Kiss, One Drink, One Song.” He opines, “Everybody got that one love, that one kiss/… Everybody got that one drink, that one song/Drowns you out, takes you along/Down memory road.” (On the other hand, those lyrics could also be seen as evidence for a biblical perspective on saving physical intimacy for marriage, as they illustrate—perhaps unintentionally—how bond that it forms is a painful, damaging connection to sever.)
And though “Unforgettable” voices regrets about getting too intimate, too fast, it’s obvious that’s exactly what happened: “Would’ve told you to keep all your clothes on/Would’ve never turned you on like late night TV/Let you talk to me dirty.” That track also mentions how “cheap whiskey” reminds Rice of this hard-to-forget ex.
“Lions” praises “rebels” and the “dangerous” breed of men who “can’t help” their reckless style. It also threatens roughing someone up: “Better think twice before you size up/You’ll second thought, yea, you’ll wise up.” (That implication is also present in “This Cowboy’s Hat.”)
“Jack Daniel’s Showed Up” delivers a “classic” country ode to whiskey and women: “And she turned me on another couple hundred degrees/When she turned down my beer and reached under the seat/Jack Daniel’s showed up.” Likewise, “On Tonight” voices Rice’s late-night desire for a woman, whom he’s more than willing to help out of her “little red dress”: “When you can’t unzip it yourself, so you ask for a little help/ … I hope/ … You need me, like I need you right now.”
God’s name is misused in the track “Eyes On You.” We hear “d–n” in “Amen.” That song also nods at violence in “a parking lot disagreement,” as well as mentioning “cigarettes” and “cold beer apologies.” More alcohol and sexually suggestive references turn up in “Three Chords & The Truth.”
Chase Rice said his goal on Lambs & Lions was to show a different side of himself, a side that was open, honest and real. He didn’t want to be the same ol’ party boy.
Well, as the saying goes, old habits die hard. Rice has revealed a softer, more “lamb-like” side of himself in this album’s more vulnerable moments. He experesses regret and acknowledges that not all of his choices have been good or right. We even get to hear the Lord’s prayer from start to finish along the way.
That said, vulnerable reveries about past relationships still compete with stereotypical bro-country moments here. A handful of profanities, alcohol references and some sexual innuendo still find their way into Lions & Lambs.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, loving raising their little guy, Judah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).