Rick Springfield has been releasing music since the early 70’s. You have the teeny bopper music from the 70’s to the pop hits he had in the 80’s including “Jessie’s Girl” which made him very famous. And now at 68, he brings his 20th studio album called “The Snake King”.
He has done many styles over the years and this time he ventures into the Blues genre. The album is a mixture of Blues Rock and straight up Blues. Now, this isn’t Blues like you would think with Curtis Mayfield or Robert Johnson, heck it isn’t even Blues like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang. This is Rick Springfield Blues. He can try different genres, but he will always have that Rick Springfield sound and feel to his albums. You can’t be around for 5 decades in music and not have your own style or vibe.
The Blues can be very depressing and sad at times and you might think, how is Rick going to honestly convey those emotions. Well, let me tell you he hits the nail on the head with the blues. Rick has suffered immensely with depression and he has had many issues in his life. He digs deep and captures the stories and feelings from those dark times.
By the way, if you are an overly religious person, then get prepared to have religion thrown in your face quite a bit. And not in a good way. There are numerous religious themed songs that show how much Rick seems to be questioning God and religion. At times I felt I was going to get struck by lightning for listening to it. He does not hold anything back as he takes a deep, dark dive into God and his existence. Just look at the song titles…
- “The Devil That You Know”
- “Little Demon”
- “Judas Tree”
- “Jesus Was an Atheist”
- “The Snake King”
- “God Don’t Care”
- “Santa is an Anagram”
Hmmm…”Santa is an Anagram”…can you say Satan!! (in the best Dana Carvey Church Lady Voice)…
The album is was very close to a concept album, but has more of a common theme throughout. There is even some sort of demon growling between a lot of the songs and at times within the songs themselves. I am assuming that demon is the Snake King. According to an interview with Billboard.com, Rick states the following:
“…Basically a theme record, I guess, the first theme record I’ve ever done, based on a character named The Snake King. Sometimes that character is a devil, sometimes it’s God, sometimes it’s me, sometimes it’s just the news.”
On the song, “Suicide Manifesto”, Rick talks about the very dark subject matter of suicide. He also stated in that interview above that he contemplated suicide last year and thankfully for us, he didn’t follow through. The song has hints of blues, but it is actually rather upbeat song for such a dark story.
A few of the most blues worthy songs are “The Devil That You Know”, “Little Demon” and “Judas Tree”. That is as close as he gets to real blues on the album and they are all exceptional songs. The guitar work is spectacular and there is even some great harmonica thrown in for good measure. The rest of the album ventures between rock and a little country tinged at times with a little blues sound thrown in for good measure.
The second single released is “In the Land of the Blind”. It is the opening track and has some hint of blues but doesn’t feel like a real blues song; however, that doesn’t take away from the song at all. It is a great song and seems more like a normal Rick rock song just not the happiest subject matter. Take a listen…
One of the most unexpected songs on the album is something I never expected from Rick Springfield. An epic 10 minute song. That song is called “Orpheus in the Underworld”. It comes off as country, blues and rock. It has banjo, harmonica, organs and even a mandolin to accompany the blues guitars. You get a little Greek mythology on this album as well as it brings up “Orpheus” the legendary musician, poet and prophet. He goes all over the place with this journey and even attacking God again. The song does drag on quite a bit and at times I feel like skipping it. This would be my only real negative on the song and the album.
11 keepers out 12 songs – 92% (4.0 out 5.0 stars) As a blues album it is an okay album. But as a Rick Springfield album, it is really great. I am liking it a lot more than his last album ‘Rocket Science’ from a couple years ago. Being a Christian, I am fascinated with his anti-religious aspect of the album which might be a little demented on my part, but that is what I am. I like the darker themes and anything questioning the norm. He took a chance and I feel he succeeded and gave us a very worthwhile project. If you weren’t already a Rick fan, I am not sure this will sway you one way or the other. As a fan, this is a great collection of new tracks to add to my ever growing Rick Springfield collection.