Run the Earth, Watch the Sky, Compact Disc [CD]Run the Earth, Watch the Sky, Compact Disc [CD]
Chris Rice
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It's a title that does more than simply describe the themes of the record it names. Run the Earth... Watch the Sky does an accurate job depicting how its creator, singer/songwriter Chris Rice, approaches his life, his music, and his faith. Musically this time around, there's still the modern folk reminiscent of David Wilcox and James Taylor, but fans will also notice Rice's newfound admiration of earthy but radio-friendly pop in the vein of John Mayer and Travis.

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LABEL: Rocketown Records
SPECIAL EFFECT(S): For nostalgia's sake, pay special attention to "Eighth Grade," a coming-of-age tale not unlike John Mayer's fabulous "83" on Room for Squares.
PRODUCER(S): Monroe Jones (Ginny Owens, Third Day)

Whether he's on your choice list or not, you can always count on Chris Rice for two very important things: One, he always delivers profound and universal truths that make you think; and two, he never fails to make you feel good. Many artists manage one of these; few manage both.

His first studio recording in more than two years, Chris Rice's Run the Earth, Watch the Sky proves the point. Picking up where the folksy-pop of Smell the Color 9 left off, Rice's sixth effort evokes fresh-faced, youthful emotion without an ounce of condescension or glibness.

The project kicks off with the friendly, sing-along ditty, "The Other Side of the Radio," which explains why Rice continues, despite his discomfort in the spotlight, to stick his neck and his songs out there. "Maybe this'll bring us together somehow.../And maybe someone's saying a prayer for the first time/And that's enough reason to keep me singing my songs."

Many of the songs here hearken back to themes that most students relate to: the beauty of friendship ("Everything's Okay," "Me and Becky"), hurting people ("Spare an Angel"), exploring nature and finding God in it ("My Cathedral"), life as a journey to be savored and God as ever-present in it ("Wonder," "Smile"). And running throughout is a persistent longing to know and love God more.

"Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)," by itself, is worth the price of summer camp. Expect to hear it for years to come.

Run the Earth, Watch the Sky is a memorable trip through Campground Nostalgia for the kid in all of us.

—Melissa Riddle