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Chris Rice
[ smell the color 9 ]


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Smell the Color 9 - Click to view! There are many things that Christians experience on a daily basis that seem like foolishness to those who are on the outside. To them our lives are full of head-scratchers such as joyful determination or mindful curiosity. These things (and others) are just what Chris Rice ponders in his third album Smell the Color Nine.

A dreamy carnival sound opens the album in “Questions for Heaven.” There are several not-so-subtle references to Rice’s previous songs: “Swat that clumsy fly, woke me up from a dream about heaven. Smelling coffee downstairs… What’s your favorite cartoon, can you tell me what’s out past the edges?” With the inventive music, it would have been nice to hear some inventive lyrics with it, like those in the title track “Smell the Color Nine.” In this song what would seem to be gibberish becomes clear as Rice explains how searching for God can often feel like trying to Smell the Color Nine. Doing the impossible. We can only find what he chooses to show us. But when we feel like we will never find Him he gives us a place to “Belong.” It is here where the hard-sought Father takes us into His lap and delights in revealing himself to us. This third track brings a grand piano to bittersweet words: “You lift my chin and seek my eyes. A song of love you sing to me, I ache to sing it back to thee.” Chris Rice is the authority on quiet songs like this one.

“Home Tonight” is a song about the prodigals. Such a huge amount of encouragement comes from the lyrics “I remember now how strong love can be, and I wonder how you might welcome me.” It makes you want to get down on your knees then and there to cry out to God for the friend or family member who has chosen to turn away from Him.

Overused clichés abound in the pop tune “Sailing with Russell,” a simple song about childlike faith. A good premise, but somewhere between the oooh-oooh’s and the bop-a-da-da’s this song just falls flat. The clichés continue with “Somebody’s Watching.” In the Santana-esque chorus Chris tells us that “Somebody’s watching that lonely heart inside, somebody’s watching, ain’t missed a tear you cried.” Where have we heard that before?

Maybe Chris Rice has some trouble with lyrics in this album, maybe the wheels in his head would only spit out repeats of past songs, but that peaceful voice still sings, and the music is different in a very pleasant way. A solid effort by Mr. Rice, but in comparison to his first two albums, Smell the Color Nine comes up just a little short.
- Melissa Miles
May 2, 2002
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