RICK SPRINGFIELD – The Snake King (2018)
RICK SPRINGFIELD is back with a new album titled “The Snake King” on January 26th, 2018, via the Frontiers Music label. Rick, not for the first time in his career, has thrown a curveball that surprises and absolutely delights at the same time.
“The Snake King” finds Springfield traveling down a dusty dirt road to explore the blues side of his rock ‘n roll, still retaining the melodic rock keen he has been known for.
Back at his teens in Australia, Springfield guitar playing was influenced by the same musicians who influenced all the English players he grew up with; Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, etc.
“The Snake King” is indeed Rick Springfield’s bluesy album – a record full of wonderful songs, smoky melodies, some fine guitar work and some rather unexpected lyrical content.
It’s not of course a take on Robert Johnson and not reaching back to the depths of the genre, but a mix of bluesy patterns mixed with a melodic rock rock feel.
Take as example opener ‘Land of the Blind’, a blues based tune, however the verses, and especially the catchy chorus are pure Rick Springfield power pop / melodic rock.
‘The Devil That You Know’ has more swing, an uptempo Chicago Blues feel, and adds shuffles and shimmies out of the speakers and lyrically takes up a religious theme that cuts through the record. ‘Little Demon’ takes you even deeper though, where Springfield’s gravelly voice embodies Classic Rock in its proper sense with some nice guitar work and a beautiful, languid breakdown.
Getting into the meat of the album ‘Judas Tree’ starts a move towards a more traditional Blues feel – it’s an uptempo rocker that ticks all the right boxes in the vein of Jeff Healey, whilst ‘Jesus Was an Atheist’ that follows it takes a rather irreverent lyric and continues with an uptempo strut that brings to mind Gary Moore.
The title track add acoustics to the mix recalling the movie ‘Crossroads’ (remember it? the one with Steve Vai). Again it’s bluesy stuff, but listen to the chorus… this is pure Springfield melodic rock.
The ensuing ‘God Don’t Care’ then takes the listener back to Rick 2016’s album Rocket Science – conjuring a scenery of sparse and dusty roads, scorching summer heat, and blurs of mirage on the horizon.
The trip continues with ‘The Voodoo House’ which may recall the blazing glory of good ol’ days and back-of-the-nickel photographs. Yes, again teh song has a trademark Rick melodic rock feel.
‘Blues For the Disillusioned’ is the first of a diverse trio that close the album – adding a dash of heady AOR balladistic, before ‘Santa is an Anagram’ (i.e. Satan) bounds in daubed in proto-Rock n roll.
The final word goes to the epic ten minute ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’ a serious statement in Americana, almost Springsteen-like in its grand execution. It may well be Springfield’s most serious artistic statement.
As a long time fan of Rick Springfield I’m really rather pleased by “The Snake King” and even more impressed, it still sounds like Rick, but this is a mature album that steps out of what you imagine must have been rather comfortable AOR / Melodic Rock corner.
An artist like Springfield has really nothing to prove to the world anymore, and this new record shows what some of us always knew; he can do anything he sets his mind to. And very well.
Rick Springfield has been making and playing music for almost half a century now; not to mention, his other artistic endeavor which is acting is another streak on his crowning glory. Thus, for the grace of it, he really deserves the accolades and to be in the pantheon of other music greats.
“The Snake King” is another testament of his endurance, prolificacy, and encompassing artistry.
01. Land of the Blind
02. The Devil That You Know
03. Little Demon
04. Judas Tree
05. Jesus Was an Atheist
06. The Snake King
07. God Don’t Care
08. The Voodoo House
09. Suicide Manifesto
10. Blues for the Disillusioned
11. Santa is an Anagram
12. Orpheus in the Underworld