THE NEW 2019 RIPP+RICE PROJECT:
Songs We Wrote on Tuesdays
(A collaborative side project by Chris Rice and Andrew Ripp)
Ripp is an extrovert. Rice is an introvert.
Ripp is an energetic feeler. Rice is a calm robot.
Ripp is an early-thirty-something. Rice might be a couple of decades older (*cough*).
Ripp loves dogs. Rice lives pet-free, except for maybe a plant.
Ripp had a colorful, tough upbringing. Rice had a plain vanilla childhood.
Ripp sings like an old gutsy soul. Rice sounds too smooth no matter how hard he tries to be a gutsy soul.
Ripp is a man of faith and grit. Rice is a man of faith, not so much grit.
Ripp loves his lovely wife like a champ. Rice loves his solo life, and pizza.
So unalike, these two, Ripp and Rice.
I'm Rice...Chris Rice. He's Ripp...Andrew Ripp.
We became instant friends the first time I heard Ripp's voice belt out the line "I found my Savior..." That unmistakable rasp and energy from his throat filled that local coffee shop and started some serious head-bobbing all around me. I was floored. We met after his set. That was back in 2009 or 2010.
"Hey Chris, do you ever co-write? We should write some songs together."
"Hey Andrew, you’re cool. I don't really co-write. We can try...but only if it's fun."
Turns out it was solid fun. Eight years of solid fun. Ripp and Rice, Tuesday afternoons. And it has all turned into a new collaborative album.
The songs on our new duo side-project reflect what happens when two unalike creative people collaborate. They negotiate and trade ideas, fight for words and phrases, constantly swap places at the piano and the guitar, test and re-test melodies, laugh at each other’s ridiculousness. And then songs are born. You get everything from heart-wrenching, honest songs about struggling through tough times, to love songs, to celebrations of faith, to perspectives on loved ones passing. Each new track features either Andrew or me singing (and you might hear a harmony part thrown in every now and then by the other). So we take turns singing through these 13 songs.
“Via Dolorosa” Rice borrows the traditional name of Christ's Jerusalem pathway from his trial to his cross to hold out hope in the face of affliction.
“Hold On” Ripp vocalizes the tearful moments of holding on to each other and reminding each other through the darkest night that morning will soon come.
“Gorgeous” Rice celebrates the magnitude of Creation, hoping to somehow live up to its beauty.
“Not So Far Away” Ripp sings about being a kid, growing up “playin' it cool, livin' by the book” while his tough, fearless sister was “ready to take on the whole damn world.” And now that they're grown-up, his powerful voice soars with hope (“now we're healing and our hearts are open”) as he pines for the future days when they can be together again and love and laugh like siblings. (My favorite upbeat, sing-alongable song on the record.)
“Nothin’ Like This” Rice references centuries of poems and films and love songs, and finds them yet unable to capture love perfectly.
“Frontlines” Ripp renders a tender short-and-sweet song of promise to do whatever it takes to love his sweetheart well.
“This Ain’t No Love Song” Rice sings romantic line-after-line of innocent fibs, denying his obvious crush on the girl he's singing to.
“Let It Burn” Ripp visits the biblical image of the burning bush to learn what he can about trust, and asking God to show up in the hard times.
“Took Your Breath Away” Rice simplifies, in an Appalachian-style melody, the curiosity of a kid about a grandparent's faithfulness up to the final moments of life.
“Boy” Ripp boldly and poetically longs for innocence in the chaos of modern times and humanity's dilemma.
“Carry On” Chris cheerfully sends off a loved one, ready for the celebration awaiting her on golden streets. (Yeah, I know, we joked about titling this whole record, “Make ‘Em Cry”)
And more. Thirteen songs in total. Songs that cover a lot of ground and span the wide capacity of living.
Two unalike creative guys spent eight years of Tuesdays hashing out ideas and melodies, draining coffee mugs, consuming too much gelato, processing hardship and celebrating life. These songs are the fruit of friendship. What a privilege to finally share these songs with the rest of you!