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Music Review - `Same Shirt, Different Day` by Rodney Rice (dmac)

Rodney Rice-Same Shirt, Different Day  (click on image to watch video)

 1 September 2020

 

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Rodney Rice’s album, Same Shirt, Different Day, features the songs and sound of one woebegone musical soul. Rice sings with a rough-edged voice that is sometimes gravelly, akin to the late John Prine’s singing style, while his songs many times tell hard luck stories, ever so Prine-esquely. This 12-song set is the follow up to Rice’s debut, Empty Pockets and a Troubled Mind. These tunes sometimes play out like country music, and other times come off more folky. No matter the style, though, Rice consistently performs like a man muddling his way through life.

When he as at his best, Rice’s songs also express a subtle sense of humor. One titled “Can’t Get Over Her,” for instance, rolls to a traditional country sonic and incorporates a little corny country humor. Its chorus finds Rice complaining, “I can’t get over her/While she’s lying next to him.” These lines are funny, of course, if you take them literally. With “Middle Managed Blues,” Rice sings his workingman’s blues. It begins with Rice describing his employer giving him a critical performance review. It finds Rice detailing how he-- a self-described hippie -- just doesn’t always fit neatly into the conventional work world. Work takes on a much more serious tone with “Company Town,” though, as Rice sings about what it’s like to live and try and survive in a town where coalmining is almost literally the only gig in town. Sonically, the latter song works in soulful elements of trumpet and tenor saxophone. There aren’t many out-and-out love songs on this album, but “Walk Across Texas” is one exception. Colored by Hammond B3 and downhome fiddle, the song’s lyric are the words of one man’s dedicated love. “Rivers Run Backwards” also incorporates romantic sentiments; he’ll lover his girl forever, until the rivers run dry.

Although he’s a West Virginia native, Rice’s music distinctly reminds you of Texas songwriters, like Steve Earle and Guy Clark. Like them, Rice is a dedicated individualist. The last thing anybody would ever call him is a people-pleaser, that’s for sure. Just like the difficult-to-manage employee spotlighted in “Middle Managed Blues,” Rice is an artist that sells himself as an ‘as is.’ He’s never going to pretend to be something he’s not. That’s one of the beauties in the Texas singer/songwriter tradition. These artists often sing the thoughts we non-musical folks wish we could say out loud. Rice doesn’t always have a filter on his thoughts, which cause his songs to come out stunningly honest, consistently

One of the album’s warmest songs is called “Memoirs of Our Youth.” It’s Rice recalling his childhood, including his mother’s unforgettable advice to never forget to say his prayers. This piece shows a sentimental side of Rice’s personality, which is kept hidden away from the listener on most of the album’s other songs.

While Rice has chosen the singer/songwriter’s life, many of his songs are also relatable to most working-class folk. He’s not so committed to the artistic world that he’s lost touch with what it’s like to struggle through everyday life. As the album’s title reminds us, sometimes we just can’t tell one day from another. The date on the calendar may change, but the problems of yesterday are just as present today. Life is tough, it’s true, but Rodney Rice is a likeminded friend that shares your pain through his tough-minded songs.

 

 

Music Reviewer - Dan MacIntosh

 

Dan MacIntosh - Dan MacIntosh has been a professional music journalist for 30 years and his work has regularly appeared in many local and national publications, including Inland Empire Weekly, CCM, CMJ, Paste, Mean Street, Chord, HM, Christian Retailing, Amplifier, Inspirational Giftware, Stereo Subversion, Indie-Music, Soul–Audio, Roughstock.com, Country Standard Time and Spin.com. 

To Read All of Dan's Reviews, Click Here

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