Though this was Rick Springfield's ninth album, it seemed like the third to most pop music fans, as it came on the heels of his breakthrough, Working Class Dog, and its successful follow-up, Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet. And though this contained as many hits as the aforementioned collections, it isn't remembered as quite the same in terms of accomplishment; this may be because it is so personal that it's just not as accessible. Living in Oz is Springfield's response to the dance-pop wave that was just starting to build and would be prominent until grunge announced its presence, as well as his response to the naysayers who wouldn't accept him as a serious musician. Where earlier hits, like "Jessie's Girl" and "Don't Talk to Strangers," were well-crafted pop tunes, on this release he shows an edge and a maturity he hadn't before. By embracing the synthesizers he also shows contempt for, he is able to illustrate how they're changing music and the way fans mindlessly embrace them. This sets up a dichotomy between the coldness of synths and about the need for the human touch -- whether it's with a mistress, a friend, or a father -- as each cut is about the need for that touch or about the consequences of it. Be it of adultery (a sexually charged "Alyson"), youthful dreams of fame (a spare, unsentimental "Me & Johnny"), or his upbringing (the restrained indictment "Like Father, Like Son"), the entire CD is like a confessional, and that type of honesty suits Springfield well as he matures as an artist and not just as a pop idol. Living in Oz ranks among his best.