Rick’s returning to his blues roots…
Released through Frontiers Music on 26 January 2018, MR’s David Waterfield went down to the crossroads to take a listen…
Throughout his career, Rick Springfield has rarely made the same album twice; whether that’s following up the pounding, processed beats of 1985’s Tao with the organic classic rock sound of Rock of Life or shifting from the slick AOR pop/rock of the (criminally underrated!) Sahara Snow project to the introspective, melodic Karma and then the hard rock angst of Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance. For his seventeenth studio album The Snake King Rick Springfield takes a detour down a dusty road to explore the blues side of his rock ‘n’ roll. And a damn fine album it is too.
Opening track ‘Land of The Blind’ is the first of several gems on the album; a slice of melodic country rock as wide as the sky with sharply observed lyrics, an excellent slide guitar solo and multi layered background vocals lending the track a slightly George Harrison-esque feel in places. The Snake King then slithers into view for ‘The Devil That You Know’, a classy shot of Chicago blues replete with a brass section and howling harmonica, closely followed by ‘Judas Tree’, a rollicking Louisiana blues number with a stinging guitar solo.
The title track is another album highlight, a rootsy blues stomp with acoustic slide guitar, shimmering keyboards and a killer hook line, while Springfield stirs a potent melody into the swampy Southern rock brew of ‘The Voodoo House’. Often underestimated as a lyricist, Rick returns to familiar themes of spirituality, temptation, God, religion, sex, relationships and the human psyche on this album and it is arguably the strongest of his career in that regard. Several songs are seemingly written from the perspective of the Devil including ‘Jesus Was an Atheist’ and the glorious but bitingly cynical ‘God Don’t Care’. The most surprising twist of the Snake King’s tail comes right at the end with ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’: ten minutes plus of pure acoustic heartland rock with nods to John Mellencamp and the storytelling style of Bob Dylan that stands alone in Rick Springfield’s body of work.
The Snake King isn’t a pure blues album, but it still packs a venomous bite in its fusion of pop, rock, blues and Americana. Returning to his blues roots allows Springfield to stretch out as a guitarist as The Snake King coils around you with its beguiling mix of styles, rich musicianship and eloquent lyrics. For those who only know Rick Springfield through his eighties hits ‘Human Touch’ or ‘Jessie’s Girl’ The Snake King will come as a surprise. For fans who have followed Rick’s career, this may not be the album you were expecting, but it will be one you’ll enjoy.
- Land of The Blind
- The Devil That You Know
- Little Demon
- Judas Tree
- Jesus Was an Atheist
- The Snake King
- God Don’t Care
- The Voodoo House
- Suicide Manifesto
- Blues for the Disillusioned
- Santa is an Anagram
- Orpheus in the Underworld
Fabulous review of the most underrated songwriter of our times. Thanks mate :-)
Touch of Tom Petty&Marc Cohn in featured track . . . sounds good.
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