Last year, esteemed singer/songwriter Chris Rice made waves when he subtly hinted that new music would soon be coming for the first time in over a decade. Later in the year, he announced that it would be in the form of a split album with Andrew Ripp, thus Ripp + Rice was born. In what can only be described as a quaint project, the duo comes forth bringing a post-Christmas gift dubbed Songs We Wrote on Tuesdays.
While the 13-track album features some crossover when it comes to background vocals, there are essentially seven and six alternating tracks by Rice and Ripp, respectively. Both artists shine individually, but the lack of any duets is a little disappointing. Most of the songs are shorter in nature, delivering a rather easy listen for an album with this many tracks. While both artists regularly enjoy toying within their respective genres, the spine of Songs We Wrote on Tuesdays lies somewhere around CCM southern gospel.
The album opens with Rice's "Via Dolorosa," easily one of the album's highlights. Its worshipful lyrics are poignant and flow beautifully with Rice's nostalgic voice: "Crawling by these dusty bones / ones who never made it home / I wonder what they all believed / still I can't let go of what they're teaching me / Via Dolorosa; lead me on the painful way / and meet me there when it's over / when darkness turns to day." Hearing this song makes Rice's decade-long absence even more felt. Ripp's background vocals also add a beautiful texture to the song.
The second track, "Not So far Away," is fronted by Ripp and boasts a solid country vibe. Listeners should be aware of a flippant use of 'd-mn' on the track. Following after is the charming "This Ain't No Love Song" (spoiler alert: it is), which sees Rice return to his gospel and piano form. Ripp's "Let It Burn" is a great offering with a gospel flair and building lyrics: "let it burn so bright; let the whole world see / 'til it lights up the darkness inside of me / if it takes all night 'til the morning, let it burn / let it burn so high, make the heavens glow 'til the angles see every broken soul / let it burn with hope where the shadows hide 'til my blood runs free, 'til I'm purified."
"Nothing Like This" and "Hold On" are both mellow and relaxing tracks, while Rice's "Gorgeous" is another album highlight, delivering some incredible melodies and falsetto. "Boy" features a lovely string arrangement, and Ripp's direction feels reminiscent of OneRepublic's earlier outings. "Took Your Breath Away" is an instant Chris Rice classic and one which deserves a listen from every reader who has enjoyed Rice in the past. While the song perhaps falls short of the greatness of "Untitled Hymn," it most certainly runs in the same vein. Ripp's "Frontlines" offers a short and somber semi-final track, and Rice's simple song "See You There" closes out the album with the line "if I don't see you here, I'll see you there."
Ultimately, Ripp + Rice has set an incredibly high bar for the remainder of 2019. While Songs We Wrote on Tuesdays doesn't scream for attention, it certainly deserves plenty. If nothing else, check out "Via Dolorosa," "Let It Burn," "Gorgeous," "Boy," and "Took your Breath Away." You won't be disappointed.- Review date: 1/3/19, written by David Craft of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: None
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