Mike Rickard releases “Out Loud”
Been livin’ in the shadows for far too long” croons Mike Rickard in the potent opening line of the title track in his album Out Loud, his voice the lone paintbrush applying colorful strokes to a silent canvas in the background. His vocal isn’t all by itself in the mix for long – before we know it, an equally evocative drumbeat and a slew of melodic piano keys have joined in the fun, and we’re on the first leg of a rollercoaster ride powered by rhythm and vocal harmonies that will last through the next ten songs on the LP. The seductive beats are just getting started as we slip inside the glowing colors of “Alright” before allowing Rickard to lead us into a forest of emotion and sonic decadence in “Don’t Feed the Ghosts” that could leave even hardcore fans feeling like they’re hearing what he can do with his enrapturing vocal for the first time.
“Six Queer Kids,” the star single from Out Loud, begins in a haze of guitar strings that will gently weave together a web of melodies capable of inducing chills on the spot. Rickard’s verses in this song are perhaps the most cutting he’s ever dared to utter, breaking down the realities of what it’s like to be cast aside for nothing more than loving the way your heart was always meant to, but they’re by no means anymore affective in spirit than what we hear in the proceeding “You’re to Blame.” Even when he’s working with novel lyrical concepts, like those in “Taste Your Smile” and “Wouldn’t Be Love,” Rickard is always serving his heart up on a platter to the audience in Out Loud (and sounding like the master of both poetry and creative harmonies that he always has been).
“Wouldn’t Be Love” leads us into the freewheeling strut of “What Love Looks Like” with ease, but despite the overall fluidity of the tracklist, the segueing between songs is never so seamless in Out Loud that the material begins to blend together, cosmetically or aesthetically. “Sand” invites a bit of funk into the melting pot of melodies this record has to offer without sounding like a complete creative departure from the slow-rolling soft rock of “What Love Looks Like,” nor a haphazard introduction to the stone-faced harmonies of “Not Finished Yet,” which would have been difficult for any artist to pull off, regardless of their professional pedigree.
Mike Rickard’s fourth studio LP comes to a conclusion with the eruptive melodicism of the piano ballad “Surrender,” and in more ways than one, this track brings us full-circle in narrative to where we began with the title cut. I wouldn’t go as far as to call this a concept album, although it definitely boasts the progressive hallmarks that would be required to make such an effort, but I still recommend listening to Out Loud from beginning to end with as few external interruptions as possible when you first get ahold of it. An eleven-track collection of songs and stories you won’t soon forget, this is one record pop fans need to consider required listening this spring.