INO Records / eb+flo records
“The success of ‘When Did You Fall?’ has set me free to even more so to do that kind of writing, that kind of music without any hesitations. I have no hesitation in my mind, my heart or my gut.”
Risk fuels creativity. When an artist steps away from their comfort zone, following their muse into fresh territory, it generally opens up an exciting new direction. Not everyone is willing to take chances, but Chris Rice isn’t your conventional artist. That maverick spirit and creative passion courses through every track of Rice’s new release What A Heart is Beating For.
After more than a decade in the music business that brought Dove Awards, sales success and a loyal fan base, the singer/songwriter could have become accustomed to the status quo. He might have continued down the same path, reaping the same rewards, but that’s not what a true artist chooses to do, and it’s not what Chris Rice did. Instead he took a chance with his last album, Amusing. He left the security of his longtime label home and partnered with friend/producer Monroe Jones to become co-owner in the innovative imprint Eb + Flo. Then joining forces with INO Records, Rice set out to expand his audience.
He shifted gears, tapped into the music bubbling inside him and created Amusing, a stylistic departure that changed and exceeded the already high expectations for a Chris Rice album. His risk paid off with the mainstream AC radio hit “When Did You Fall,” and the creative leap paved the way for Rice’s new effort What a Heart is Beating For.
“I’m more excited about these songs than ever,” says Rice. “I feel like they’ve taken me as a writer into new territory that allowed me to explore different aspects of my own writing and thinking. There aren’t constraints on it. There aren’t lines in the coloring book that I have to stay in. I get to put on the page whatever I want. It’s freedom I can’t describe. I still love God, but He’s given me a new coloring book.”
Well known for such hits as “Deep Enough to Dream,” “Clumsy” and “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus),” Rice has built a solid career penning literate, colorful lyrics then bringing them to life with his warm, compelling voice. Rice’s last album found him delving deeper into matters of the heart. What emerged was a surprisingly romantic soul with the ability to write songs that made women sigh and men smile knowingly. If Amusing revealed his ability to tap more broadly into the range of human experience, then “What a Heart is Beating For” takes that even further.
“So Much for My Sad Song” is a light-hearted number that began when Rice tried to write a pensive, moody tune in response to a fan’s request. “I had a guy stop me during a show,” recalls Rice. “He said, ‘When are you going write a song for us depressed people? Everything is so positive and happy.’”
Rice has always had a love affair with words. Growing up just outside Washington DC, his parents owned a Christian bookstore and he developed an appreciation for authors and songwriters. A myriad of influences have simmered together to spice the songs on Rice’s new album, his sixth studio record. “The variety I think is almost part of the thread that unites it,” he says of the diverse collection. “They way I say things, pulls them all together.”
“Sneakin’ Into Heaven” is quintessential Chris Rice. The song is musically engaging with an upbeat, impossible to resist melody, yet the lyric is deep and spiritually profound. “The whole song started with the concept of borrowing someone else’s halo. I just had this image stuck in my head of borrowing someone else’s halo and then just seeing kind of the universal truth behind that,” says Rice, noting we don’t get into heaven by our own deeds. “None of us are good enough to be there. We all get there by borrowing someone else’s perfection.”
Another meaty track on the album is “Tell Me The Story Again.” “It’s the one I deliberately wrote to state my faith,” says Rice. “It tells the whole story of the gospel, but it invites the listener to become a part of the story.”
The songs on the album run the gamut from the quirky fun of “Sneakin’ Into Heaven” and the nostalgic romp “Kids Again” to the social commentary of “You Don’t Have to Yell.” “Pardon My Dust,” inspired by a hotel renovation sign, is a snapshot of a life in process. “It says ‘I’m still figuring this out. I’m saying my prayers. I’m in process,’” says Rice. “It ends up with the last line of the song ‘Have patience with me, I’m still sweeping floors, so pardon my dust and I’ll pardon yours.’”
“What a Heart is Beating For” was produced by Monroe Jones. The title song is a prime example of their creative chemistry. The track soars and swells as the music underscores the poignancy in Rice’s lyric. “It says just take a deep breath and throw open the door, that’s what the heart is beating for,” Rice says. “You are alive and your heart is beating so you can take these risks. You can live and love this way. Whether it’s romantically and you are connected to somebody and give your whole self to them or whether it’s seeing someone in need. You may not get anything in return, but give your whole self anyway. That’s what your heart is beating for, that’s why you are alive.”
Life is risky. Love is risky. Music is at its best when it challenges us to take those risks. “The first time I played this for some of my friends, I heard a young college student friend say under his breath—not intended for me to hear—‘Wow, that makes me want to be a better person,’” recalls Chris, obviously humbled. “That’s why I do this, just hearing that reaction. I hope this song has that impact on a lot of people.”
His recent mainstream success has given Rice the opportunity to share his faith with a hungry world. Of course, believers will still be encouraged by his wit and intellect, but he’s now been blessed with a platform to do more. “I got some letters from people on the website asking ‘What’s wrong with my faith? Why are you doing that?’” he says. “It’s my faith that is compelling me to expand, grow and change. I’m doing this because of how vital and vibrant and important my faith is in affecting every area of my life and affecting how I live my life on the road. I’m living it out in a new way. The success of ‘When Did You Fall?’ has set me free to even more so to do that kind of writing, that kind of music without any hesitations. I have no hesitation in my mind, my heart or my gut.”
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.