February 17, 2016 Rick Springfield – Rocket Science (Album Review)
Australian Rick Springfield is a Renaissance Man juggling being a musician, singer, songwriter, actor, and author. After playing in several bands like Rockhouse, MPD Ltd., Wickedy Wak, and Zoot with some degree of success, Springfield broke out on his own, signing with Sparmac Records the Fall of 1971. Quickly, he released his first single, “Speak to the Sky,” making it to #5 on the Go-Set Singles chart. Then, in 1972, he cut his first album, Beginnings, in which he did everything from the songwriting, to the vocals, and instruments. It was the start of something special for Springfield as he went on to pump out album after album. This hard work all paid off in 1981 when he hit it big time with Working Class Dog, an album that featured the smash hit “Jessie’s Girl.” This ignited three more consecutive platinum selling records, 1982’s Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet, 1983’s Living in Oz, and 1984’s Hard to Hold, the run solidified Springfield’s status as a Rock-n-Roll icon. Now in 2016, Springfield is as active as ever, completing a successful tour last year with Loverboy, he is now set to release his new studio album on February 19th, entitled Rocket Science. Coming four years after his highly impressive Songs for the End of the World, Rocket Science was co-written and co-produced by Springfield with long-time partner in crime, Matt Bissonette (Elton John, Ringo Starr).
The 13-track album is admittedly the most positive of his collection beginning with “Light this Party Up,” a rocker boasting a tasty opening riff. That very riff continues throughout the track before breaking into a fun solo as Springfield gets the party going with a reflective song of growing up and fixing relationships. Next, “Down,” is a song he had co-written with Rascal Flatt’s Jay DeMarcus, coming in with a County-like melody, but still firmly planted in the Rock realm as the guitars still tear it up as Springfield sings about the sacredness of committing to a relationship.
Moving on to ”That One,” Springfield takes the listener through a particularly hard relationship with a strong, driving melody as he pours out his soul. Springfield’s vocals start “The Best Damn Thing” with the declaration that all men should extol on their significant others, that he’s the lucky one as the anthemic beat kicks in, driven by the drums with light guitars accompany while Springfield sings about his luck at having his wife. The funkified “Miss Mayhem,” co-written by Hold Steady’s Tad Kubler, plays around with the twang of Country turned to harder Rock in this yin to “Best Damn Thing’s” yang as Springfield sings of an irresistible nutcase. Everyone needs to “Pay It Forward,” at least in their lives, as the upbeat melody makes the listener want to get up to dance as the guitars are noticeable, but not overwhelming, complementing Springfield’s message of swallowing pride and outside interference to spread the love wealth. “Found” slows the album down a bit with a sweeping melody that will have lighters raised at concerts. Springfield, again, extols the love he has for his wife.
Showing Springfield reflecting once more, “Crowded Solitude” picks the album’s pace up slightly as Country and Rock meld again as the banjo shines throughout the track. With an Industrial Country flare, “Let Me In” comes next. This track has a beat of a driving vibe to push the want of the message of someone that is standoff-ish, but the other person is so sincere, they are not taking no for an answer. “All Hands on Deck” starts like an old Civil War anthem, then, opens up with a rocked out version of said anthem with electric violins and fiddles as Springfield sings an ode to our forefathers’ call to arms and patriotism.
Rocking out of the gate, “We Connect” comes on strong with the anthemic message of making a concerted effort to find a common ground to connect as a society, or we will fail. This track has a driving hook that catches the ear. Springfield answers the wish of anybody who has been hurt in “(I Wish I Had a) Concrete Heart.” There is an assertiveness to how Springfield sings his feelings that mirrors the melody. Closing Rocket Science is “Earth to Angel,” an upbeat piece of Rock/Country/Funk that sings of looking for the beauty in just “being” instead always having drama. Those who spring the extra money, the deluxe version has a bonus track title, “Beautiful Inside.” This sweet Easter egg, like the rest of the album, is a mashup of Country and Rock with a message of being yourself, because there is beauty in everybody, regardless what the world throws at us.
Where artists find inspiration at their darkest times, Springfield has tapped into his positive, sometimes spiritual side with Rocket Science, proving it is not rocket science to make a happy album. Staying true to his instincts, Springfield has created a fun, inspirational, and sometimes comical (“Miss Mayhem”) album that anybody can relate to on any given track. CrypticRock gives Rocket Science 5 out of 5 stars.