Chase Rice today released the brand new and lead single from his new album set to come out later this year. It’s titled “Whisper” and isn’t exactly much of a departure from his previous singles. But that will be properly reviewed on another day. No, something else much more interesting was released from Rice today and that was a letter on his site. The name of the piece is “My Honest Letter To You, The Fan.” It’s in both hand-written and text form and it comes off not only weird, but quite interesting (shout out to reader jb for bringing this to our attention):
What’s up y’all, Chase here. I wanna start by saying I hope y’all enjoy my new song “Whisper.” My guys and I have put a ton of work and thought into this new music, and I know a bunch of you out there will love it. Having said that, I’m not ignorant, there are a lot of people out there waiting for country music to find a little more depth and meaning. Well, I agree with you. Country music deserves that. This first song may not be what you’re looking for yet, but that’s ok, because music was not meant to be heard in singles, but in albums. My album will be out later this summer, and I can promise you one thing….if you absolutely love this progressive version, I appreciate you, and I think you will love this upcoming ALBUM. If you have listened to my music for years and want to hear more depth and meaning, I very much appreciate you, too, and your desires will also be fulfilled on this album (and truthfully, that was my goal on previous albums with songs like “Carolina Can” and “Every Song I Sing.”) I grew up on guys like Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney. Songs like “The Dance” and “There Goes My Life” spoke to me at that time and still do today. They helped shape me as an artist and as a man. I cannot speak to the state of country music, after all I’m just one small part of it, but I can speak about my music, and I have a strong desire to put my life stories–good or bad, fun or serious, cliche or not often said–into my albums. Having said this, I also know I can’t please everybody, so if you’re a fan of mine, thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you’re not a fan of mine, you most likely haven’t gotten this far in this letter, but I appreciate you, too, because you, too, give me the drive to maybe one day convert you with three chords and the truth, one song, or one show, but since it’s coming from me, it’s going to come to you one album at a time.
The very first thing that catches my attention is the huge emphasis on the word album, not only mentioned a lot throughout the letter, but specifically underlined. Not only this, but he seemingly apologizes for this new single. He basically admits that this isn’t deep and that many out there want more depth in his music and all of country music. And I have to say it’s refreshing for him to acknowledge it. He then goes on to promise that his album will be deep and have more meaning. He cites previous efforts of trying to dig deeper and how meaningful country music was to him growing up. It’s pretty obvious that he is trying to appeal to his critics and convince them that his music can be more than what it has been. The final words hammer this home more, as he specifically acknowledges people who aren’t fans of him and how he hopes to win them over “one album at a time.”
As easy as it is to just dismiss this as cheap marketing, I want to believe Chase Rice’s intentions here are sincere and honest. It’s not a secret that this whole “letter to the fans” schtick has been a played out marketing trope in recent years by mainstream country artists. Many love to send one to country radio after hitting #1. Chase Rice’s music has done very little to inspire me up to this point, as I’ve been one of his most vocal critics. It repulsed me how his label pushed his last single for over a year at radio. But then I see this letter and remember at the end of Ignite The Night the potential he showed on a song like “Jack Daniels and Jesus.” Rice cashed in hard on bro country and now it’s dead. He has to adapt and he knows it. One of the impacts I foresaw with Chris Stapleton’s big win at the 2015 CMA Awards was forcing everyone in the mainstream country world to dig deeper. I’m slowly seeing this out of a lot of mainstream country artists (well the ones who are not choosing to sell out even harder).
All of this makes me believe that Rice is telling the truth right here. More than anything I hope he is because I would hope any artist wouldn’t want to be remembered for songs like “Gonna Wanna Tonight.” I would hope that an artist would realize the impact they have on people’s lives that hear their music. It still doesn’t excuse his new single “Whisper” of course. Any independent country artist or impartial fan who reads this will be insulted by Rice’s admittance to not digging deep with all of his music and basically chasing mainstream attention with a lot of his previous music. But as they say the first step in resolving a problem is admitting you have one. This will also continue the speculation and discussion around mainstream country artists and the say they let their labels have in making their music.
The only way we will know how sincere this letter is will be when Rice’s new album is released.