Switching genres is always a risky move, especially for an established band. Fans of A Rocket to the Moon’s 2009 release On Your Side, their catchy (almost painfully cutesy) looking-for-the-right-girl pop-rock album, may wonder why the guys decided to trade in their complementary Warped Tour Vans sneakers for cowboy boots.

 But A Rocket to the Moon ignored the risk and ditched their catchy, pop-rock sound for equally catchy country tunes. With their new record, Wild & Free, the band have not only polished their sound, but their song subjects are much deeper than those on On Your Side, which was pretty much about a girl. That’s it.

“Another Set Of Wings” deals with the loss of a loved one and vocalist Nick Santino delivers the lyrics so beautifully you can feel your heart break. You can hear the sadness in the softness of his voice.

Rocket stays true to their upbeat-roots with jams like “You’re My Song,” which references Bruce Springsteen and Lynyrd Skynyrd in a clever comparison of music to love. “You’re my song, my Sweet Home Alabama, I could sing you all night long.”

 Wild & Free is a huge step in the right direction for the group and the new sound will welcome in a new set of fans for the Braintree, Mass. natives. It sounds like Santino has finally found the right genre for his vocal chords. After three and a half years of writing, recording and perfecting, A Rocket To The Moon has created a record that will tug at your heart strings and leave you smiling –  all at the same time.

Rating: 9/10

Written by Catherine Powell