According to billboard.com, Rick Springfield has recorded his first blues album. “The Snake King” is scheduled for release Jan. 26, 2018. The article features Springfield explaining his love of Chicago and Deep South blues while growing up in Australia. The first single, “Little Demon” is streaming on several platforms.
The evolution of Rick Springfield
For a number of people in Rick Springfield’s fan base, their first introduction to the musician had nothing to do with music. Springfield played Dr. Noah Drake on the long-running ABC soap opera, “General Hospital.” The role began in 1981 and lasted until 1983. The role was reprised from 2005 to 2013.
During the early 1980s, while he was making a name for himself as an actor, Springfield also had a string of hits. Songs like “Jessie’s Girl,” “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” and “Human Touch,” were popular in the early 1980s. Their rock-pop chords and lyrical subjects made them Top 40 favorites.
Springfield’s early catalog is replete with guitar and keyboard songs about relationships. While the guitar work was never shoddy, it never sounded as though the musician behind it (Springfield) could go deeper, to the blues. Springfield sounds completely at home playing the sometimes-searing guitar chords. His voice was always clear and mid-ranged. In short, the news that Springfield has a forthcoming blues album is somewhat mind-blowing.
“Little Demon”: Rick Springfield sings the blues
Lyrically, “Little Demon” sounds like it is one of Springfield’s classics. The “demon” here is a metaphor. There are references to wanting to “haunt” the object of his affection. The material is not difficult to grasp.
I was most curious about the instrumentation. Yes, Springfield plays guitar well, but can he switch genres? Has his boyhood ambition finally come to pass? The answer is “yes.”
While at first “Little Demon” sounds like blues rock, with one guitar’s longer notes getting intercepted by choppier, bluesy ones. The soundscape is heavy, so already Springfield has distanced himself from his pop-rock past. The thump and cry of guitars work well with the song’s story. But listeners have to be patient to hear the entirety of Springfield’s foray into the blues. Suddenly, around midway the track, the soundscape slows down and gets completely bluesy. In short, Springfield pulls it off.
In addition to the instrumentation sounding as though it came from somewhere dark and troubled, Springfield’s voice has roughened for the occasion of a blues song and it is effective. It would have been completely odd for the soundscape to be bluesy, while the vocals were light.
It seems that Springfield has done his homework. He has managed to hit all the right notes with this first single. Springfield’s blues album might not appeal to all of his longtime fans, but those who appreciate an artist trying new things should appreciate Springfield’s effort on this one.