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

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

 22 August 2020



It goes without saying that the late great John Prine had a profound effect on the majority of artists that operate within the confines of Americana environs. His no-nonsense, straight and sincere approach to relating tales borne from the heartland, and the uncommon yet unassuming breed of everyman and everywoman that occupy it, offered a common connection that listeners could relate to without fear of finding false pretense. Credit Rodney Rice with taking notice of his own, sharing that overriding influence on his excellent new album Same SHIrT Different Day. Indeed, the playful penmanship in the title is no accident; Rice’s sense of irony and his particular penchant for framing everyday situations with a cheery and charming attitude and down-home demeanor would certainly make Prine proud. Indeed, with a dozen songs mostly of his own making, Rice not only shares an admiration for Prine in his prime, but also manages to make that affable attitude his own.

That said, Rice’s blue-collar narratives mostly find him on an even keel, one that combines his rugged and relentless delivery tempered by a sound that can occasionally sound somewhat frayed around the edges. It might take the form of a lazy swagger, as expressed in the tears-in-the beer shuffle “Can’t Get Over Her” (“I can’t get over her while she’s lying next to him”), the easy lope of “Pillage and Plunder” or the Band-sounding sensibilities conveyed through “Company Town.” Mainly though, Rice not only wears his heart on his sleeve, but also plants his tongue firmly in cheek, even to his own detriment and to that of anyone deemed desirable. “I can’t stand the way you dress and your hair is a mess,” he tells his lady friend on the otherwise self-deprecating “Middle Managed Blues.” Likewise, certain songs — the decidedly determined “Walk Across Texas,” the winsome yet weary “Right To Be Wrong” and the particularly Prine-like “Rivers Run Backwards” and “Memoirs of Our Youth”— betray an assured sensitivity that offers an astute insight into Rice’s wisdom and resilience.

In these problematic and pandemic times, most folks can relate to the telling title with which Rice has christened this set of songs. That’s all the more reason to appreciate their well-spun wisdom and reflection. Whether it’s the same shirt, the same shit or another non-distinctive day, Rice’s wisdom provides a much needed respite.

 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

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