Mike Rickard
Gig Seeker Pro

Mike Rickard

Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Band Pop Rock

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


Ladies and gentleman, the pop throne long-ago abdicated by George Michael has finally found a worthy candidate as successor in the vocal prowess and songwriting talents of Mike Rickard. His debut CD, Stirred Not Shaken, has the fresh energy of Michael’s Faith album, and none of the latter’s recent maudlin muck. At first it may seem an odd transfer of pop power ~ George Michael played with more overtly sexual themes (albeit as a fake playing-it-straight ladies man) whereas Rickard’s background of Christian church vocal groups lends a religious fervor to his work, and while Michael was dragged out of the closet long after he hit it big (and sales dwindled), Rickard is quietly but openly gay ~ but the change-of-guard makes sense when one looks at the various ways faith comes to play in the songs of both, along with the pure pop pleasure both reveal when at their best.

Stirred Not Shaken is a slickly-produced “grower” album, revealing itself slowly over repeated listening, and these are usually the ones that stand the test of time. While it’s too soon to definitively crown Rickard as the new Prince of Pop (and his style is still too blissfully raw to warrant the moniker), he has made an admirable bid for the position. Along with a genuine humility and down-to-earth image, Rickard is at odds with the current turbulent musical landscape, but this sort of album may be just what is needed to return the focus to actual self-penned music.

The album opens with “Lucky”, a funky folk-rock song with elements of electronica and a deliciously meandering bass-line. For those weary of his Christian background, have no fear ~ this sounds nothing like the contemporary Christian music you know and loathe. “Home for the Holidays” offers a lyrical tick-list of all the holidays spent alone, but Rickard manages to find an undertow of hope in the midst of despair and loneliness.

It is this lyrical proficiency that carries the weaker moments of the album, such as “Forgot to Forget”. There are some clever words, but the music borders on country schmaltz. The same goes for “Forever Ran Out of Time”. Rickard’s voice, literally and lyrically, is far better suited to the breezy “Do You Know?” in which his vocal caresses sound uncannily like vintage George Michael, possibly even surpassing him in delicacy. Though the song is written for Rickard’s father, it could also be a lost lover’s query ~ a heartbreaking double entendre that will have armchair psychologists nodding their heads knowingly.

The thread of loneliness continues in “I Might Not Remember”, which might very well be the thinking gay man’s lonely bar anthem (as well as a not-so-subtle ad for Cuervo Gold). Here Rickard espouses all of the one-night-stands who have melted into forgotten memory, imbuing the tale with subtle shades of ambivalence and regret.

During the mid-section of the album things start to sound a little over-produced, and the very cohesiveness of the sound runs the risk of repetition, but Rickard still manages to give each song a distinctive slant, mostly due to his delivery and vocal diversity. He even gets into the dance groove with the ripe-and-ready-for-remixing cut “Natural”. At first it sounds slightly out of place on this rather organic album, but soon it makes sense.

“Natural” is the proclamation and unabashed shout of pride that we’ve been waiting for, ending with the simply-but-powerfully-put line, “It’s only natural that I would fall in love with a guy like you.” It sets the stage for the album’s pinnacle and centerpiece, “Who I Am.” A quest for self-improvement and ultimately self-acceptance and salvation, it is a direct confrontation with his faith and beliefs. The musical battle-cry builds and builds before climaxing with driving guitars and gospel abandon, perfectly matching the intensity of the lyrics (which happen to contain one of the funnier lines of the entire album, “I’m schizophrenic/ And so am I.”)

Following the confessional of “Who I Am”, Rickard offers a closing ballad of poignant beauty ~ a love letter and prayer to God. Lest anyone fear a return to religion, this cut is more about one man’s spiritual journey and search for meaning, while humbly acknowledging that greater powers are at work. “Let me live as if to say/ Love is all that lasts,” he sings ~ a final stance of defiance, yet sung gently and peacefully, demanding the right to love with the grace and voice of an angel.

The album deals with bigger issues like love and loss by taking the mundane and transforming it into the miraculous. Scenes and tales of everyday life are conjured and conveyed, the deeper meanings of which are there for the thoughtful listener. Rickard has created and composed some riveting and rapturous work here. Stirred Not Shaken, with its glorious melodies and insightful lyrics, will leave you moved and mesmerized, courtesy of one man’s exhilarating musical journey.
- Edge Boston


When I heard the first part of Rickard’s first song I thought, “OK, polished production, smooth expressive voice” and I was pleased. Then I really began to listen and read through the lyrics and realized there was more depth here than I expected.

Rickard’s voice is very rich and the production is very slick and modern and would stand up next to anything currently on the radio. But the lyrics and Rickard’s point of view are more original than you might find there.

“Natural” is one of my favorites. It has a great energy and groove, and a wonderful storyline with a punch at the end. And you can dance to it. I also like “Who I Am” because it does a very good job of expressing all the confusion, exploration and questioning that we all do with the big issues in our life as we grow.

Rickard does a good job of expressing himself in a unique voice while wrapping it in a very accessible melodic package.

- The Muse's Muse


Stirred, Not Shaken, definitely describes Mike Rickard from Atlanta, GA to the very last note. Mike is an accomplished singer/songwriter on the verge of great things due to his personal determination to succeed and his undeniable talent.
After listening to Stirred, Not Shaken, I have concluded that this is definitely a relationship record with Mike openly exposing his heart and soul, sharing the highs and lows of relationships without being overly syrupy or depressing.
Stirred, Not Shaken has some interesting and personal moment of exceptional Pop music making, for instance "Everything You Need" an uptempo song about what your heart will go through to be with the one you love. "Forgot To Forget" expresses the realization of letting go of a loved one. The jazzy "Do You Know" (which is my personal favorite) is a song about his relationship with his father. Mike's uptempo songs are pleasing but it's in the ballad department that Rickard is flawless and at his most sincere, just take a listen to "Forever Ran Out Of Time", "I Might Not Remember" and As If To Say.
Mike Rickard's Stirred, Not Shaken is a sophisticated Pop masterpiece that is sure to evoke your emotions.
5.0 STARS
- Evolution of Media


Stirred not Shaken, Mike Rickard’s stunning debut CD, marks the arrival of a great talent. A potent mix of styles blending Pop, Jazz, Rock and Country the emotionally stirring music travels the inner workings of the human soul, sparking reactions to issues both social and spiritual. Firmly grounded in a strong sense of self the opening selection, “Lucky,” hooks listeners with acoustic and electronic elements supporting the singer’s richly textured vocals.

Powerful even at its most understated moments, Mike Rickard’s persuasive presence helps to convey the messages of loneliness and despair present in “Home for the Holiday,” “I Might not Remember” and the bittersweet ballad “Forgot to Forget,” while the tender delivery of “Do You Know” barely hides the pain found just under the lyrics’ surface. And although the animalistic intensity of the aggressively upbeat “Natural” celebrates queer attraction, the most outspoken track on Stirred not Shaken is the self-aware and complex “Who I Am,” a prelude to the album-closing meditative prayer “As if to Say.”

A bold album that’s well worth the listen, Stirred not Shaken from Mike Rickard (www.mikerickard.com) is available in stores, on-line or by calling 1-800-BUY-MY-CD.
- EXP Magazine/Q Media Reviews


Quote: "Every track seduced me. I could write a full review on each one."

By Jennifer Layton

I rarely get CDs this good. So good that I have to wonder why in the world the artist needs Indie-Music.com. These songs should already be on the radio. Mike Rickard should have been mentioned somewhere in Rolling Stone by now and should be trying to decide what to wear to the Grammys while freaking out over the fact that he has to change his cell phone number because someone hacked into Paris Hilton’s address book again. And reminding himself to return Rufus Wainwright’s phone call. And trying to remember seventeen different acceptance speeches in case he wins all seventeen of those Grammys he's been nominated for.

That’s where he should be. And he will be. That voice is a stunner. Rickard wisely kicks off the CD with a song that lets his voice command full and immediate attention. “Lucky” begins with a far-off, echoed electronic sound as the only instrumentation, allowing the lyric “It’s not how I planned it, it’s not how I dreamed” to burst with full yearning force from the speakers. The song is perfectly crafted, with that electronic sound pulsing all the way through while the full band energy rises up around it. This is a catchy, rolling tempo with pop hooks. I got reeled right in. To top it off, the lyrics carry a positive message to help the song soar even higher. The refrain is simply “When I imagine what could have been, I feel lucky.”

Each song has character. Lush production, unabashed honesty, and in a few cases, a good old-fashioned clever twist. Case in point: “Home For the Holidays” is a bluesy song about actually being home for the holidays. His home. By himself. The warmth of the music keeps the song from wallowing in misery, so instead of getting depressed, I simply connect and flow with it. He mentions a few holidays, but he’s smart to start off with Valentine’s Day. Just about everyone has been there. (I can top him, though. Try being single and waiting tables in a nice restaurant on Valentine’s Day. If you were one of the happy couples whose food I spat on before serving, I am truly, truly sorry.)

Wonderful lyrics kept leaping out at me. In the piano-driven ballad “Forgot to Forget,” he’s watching an old movie, “the one that used to make me laugh because it made you cry.” And he can crank the temp right up to steamy when he’s in the mood. From “Everything You Need”:

When you seek the arms of pleasure
I know what to do
I’ll be your rhythm baby
When you just can’t shake the blues ...

Every track seduced me. I could write a full review on each one. I definitely hear Rickard’s George Michael influence in “Do You Know,” which sounds like a homage to Michael’s “Kissing a Fool.” I also loved the hypnotic unfolding of the story of two lonely strangers meeting in a bar in “I Might Not Remember.” I feel the animal attraction in the dance beat of “Natural.” I feel like I’m standing in the middle of every song.

The last two tracks deserve special attention. I’m always impressed by artists who can sing spiritual songs without preaching. In “Who I Am” and “As If To Say,” Rickard pours his soul out without the melodrama. He’s intense and passionate. And while the latter track is a deep, honest prayer set to music, it’s beautifully humble. He’s not preaching, he’s reaching. Whether his songs are secular or spiritual, Rickard is always stretching up on his tiptoes, trying to see the truth just over that mountain of worries and fears and insecurities.

I love this album so much, I’ll buy a copy for one of our readers this month. Send me an email at jennifer@indie-music.com and ask for it, and I’ll pick one of the emails at random and have a copy sent to you from CDBaby.

Yeah, he’s that good. I just hope he remembers this review when he gets famous. I want him to introduce me to Rufus Wainwright.
- Indie-Music.com


Discography

Two LP's
SWEAT (2009)
Stirred Not Shaken (2004)

Photos

Bio

SWEAT: (verb) to labor or exert oneself so as to cause perspiration.

In October 2009, Mike Rickard released his sophomore CD, SWEAT, which follows the 2004 release, Stirred Not Shaken. The critically received Stirred Not Shaken was nominated for Outstanding Male Debut Recording by Outmusic in 2005 and stayed on the Outvoice Top 40 Charts for more than a year, peaking at #2. In a departure from the mellower Stirred Not Shaken, SWEAT is an up-tempo pop rock record with plenty of hooks to draw the listener in.

Although his musical influences include Jason Mraz, John Mayer, Rob Thomas, Madonna, Sarah McLachlan, Sade and a host of other artists, one CD in particular influenced his writing for this project, Natasha Bedingfield’s Unwritten. Rickard says, “Unwritten was a fun, energetic CD, but it still had something to say.”

To craft the pop rock sounds of SWEAT, Rickard worked with Ohio-based producer, Mike Ofca, known for his work with a diverse roster of artists including Eric Himan, Righteous B, and Tom Goss.

When Rickard announced SWEAT as the title of his sophomore CD, he was asked why he chose that name. The central theme of SWEAT can be summed up by the line, “So I’ll tell you how it is in case you haven’t heard / Life is just a noun but living is a verb,” – taken from the song “Anything of Nothing.” Rickard says, “The last few years have been about learning to live life to the fullest, to get the most out of each moment, to keep my relationship with my partner fresh and exciting, and to balance the demands of daily life with some fun. To do all of that, it takes effort – and sweat. I think those are things anyone can relate to.”