The all-American, emotion-evoking, country-crossing guitarist Rodney Rice introduced his self-titled album last week, a nine-track LP chock-full of people, places and things. With his smooth country vocals, sleek guitar playing and musical support from a slew of peers, Rodney Rice is a melodious and contemporary spin on traditional Americana music. A little bit honky-tonk and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, the album translates from car stereo speakers and a county road to the jukebox of a crowded bar; it’s as easy in its listening as it is deep in its heart.
Rice, who started out teaching himself the guitar after admiring his cousin’s own instrument, has made moves across the country while writing and creating music, gathering influences and insights along the way. Originally from West Virginia, he eventually found himself in Texas where his musical career began to blossom. In 2018 he made his way to Denver to combine what he’d learned and to create the sweeping third album, which “travels over a wide terrain of emotion.” Not unlike the way his journey has found him traveling across vast landscapes, Rice says he puts into words his own interpretations of each of his experiences.
The album itself was started after inspiration struck following Rice’s own wedding in Steamboat Springs, resulting in the first song penned for the album, “Rabbit Ears Motel.” From there, more songs came from different places within himself. “Writing songs captures something that influenced me,” Rice said. ” A strong emotion that represents where I was physically and mentally at some moment in time.” For instance, “How You Told Me So” was written during the pandemic, “Roll River Roll” was inspired by a true story about Rice’s friend, a coal miner who died from a life of working in a mine, and “Little Pieces” is about a love lost.
For Rice, he chooses to take “this thing called life that we all go through,” which can oftentimes be sad or hard, and make something beautiful out of it. “Falling in love, getting married, divorced, leaving, being left behind — when it connects with the listener, I know I got it right,” he said of his topical and relatable lyrics. Each song listens like a chapter, and once the book felt complete, Rice took his final project and brought it to Nashville’s The Bomb Shelter for recording.
With the album now on record, Rice’s immediate goal is to push the album to the stage, landing more gigs and getting the music in front of people. For him, listeners connecting with the music “validates the whole process.” With the help of a locally sourced live band consisting of Dog House Dave, Neil Mitchell, Ryan Elwood, Todd Moore, Olivia Shaw and the wise Doug Krause, Rice plans to book live shows soon. With Denver as his jumping-off point, he credits the local music scene and the support system for musicians and artists alike. With so many great players, bands and venues to act as pillars for others, Rice “feels humbled to be a part of it.”
Listen to Rodney Rice on Spotify here.