Rick Astley – 50 (Album Review)

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Rick Astley – 50 (Album Review)

rick promo - Rick Astley - 50 (Album Review)

Catapulted to popularity in the ’80s Pop music scene in 1987 via his solid debut effort, the English Singer Rick Astley has become a music icon in his own right. This was well-deserved; after all, Astley was able to churn out a string of successful singles culled from his ’80s-released albums: “Never Gonna Give You Up,” “Whenever You Need Somebody,” “Together Forever,” “It Would Take a Strong Man,” “She Wants to Dance with Me,” “Take Me to Your Heart,” and “Hold Me in Your Arms.” To date, Astley has seven studio albums to his credit, from 1987’s Whenever You Need Somebody to the latest, new offering, 50.

Released in the U.K. on June 10, 2016; and in the USA on October 7, 50 finds Astley in a very confident and well-balanced musical excursion yet. It opens with the piano-led and slightly guitar-fuzzy Sophisti-Fuzz sentiments of “Keep Singing.” The mid-tempo mood carries on to the next track – the catchy and positively worded “Angels on My Side.” Following is a sure breather, the slow, starry ballad “Wish Away,” which finds Astley in his strong and proper crooner disposition; its classic and nostalgic laments blend perfectly with its modern touch of musicality. The initiated can imagine a mélange of Frank Sinatra (“The Way You Look Tonight”), Matt Monro (“If I Never Sing Another Song”), Robbie Williams (“Angels”), and Michael Bublé (“I Believe in You”). Then there is the eerie and loungy Rave/Trip-Hop, dim-lit sway of “This Old House,” which will fit on a playlist that includes Traci Lords’ “Fly,” Portishead’s “Roads,” and Moby’s “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?”

The string-orchestrated Alternative Pop “Pieces” returns the mood to the overall sentimental tone of the album. Then, the upbeat, feel-good tune of “God Says” takes again the listener to the dance floor. The ensuing “I Like the Sun” is another lushly orchestrated stomper. “Somebody Loves Me” is certainly the album’s rocker, owing to its guitar-heavy shots and pounding rhythm. “Let It Rain” sounds like the sequel of the album opener, both in structural integrity and musicality. Another Alternative Pop stomper follows in the form of “Pray with Me.” The penultimate “Coming Home Tonight” will most likely be an instant favorite of fans who have loved Astley for his ’80s Pop; it has the right ingredients – catchy keyboard lines, cyclical guitar ad-lib, catchy vocal melody, four-to-the-floor drumbeat, and customary handclaps. Finally, 50 closes somberly with the soulful piano ballad “Let It Be Tonight,” where Astley’s seemingly pained voice soars slowly with nostalgia, ending the song with a spoken part that conjures images of falling autumn leaves.

From the Dance Pop sensibilities of his first albums through the more mature approach (yet still danceable in some corners) of the latter ones, Astley’s 50 is certainly a healthy mix of both aspects of his musicality and lyricism. The tunefulness, playfulness, and seriousness remain in harmony with one another. In simple words, Astley’s music has progressed beautifully and naturally; more so, his fuller voice and more contemplative lyrical sentiments have complemented his current status as a well-aged, iconic artist. CrypticRock gives 50, 4 out of 5 stars.

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aLfie vera mella
aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature.In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music.As a means to further his passion for music, he formed the band haLf man haLf eLf. He now performs with another band, The Psychedelics.aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He began writing album reviews for CrypticRock in 2015.In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf? His next planned literary endeavor is to publish the remaining parts of the anthology and his works on Poetry, Fantasy Fiction, and Mythology.In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. He participates at various community events; and he explores the diverse cultural beauty of Canada whenever his schedule permits it.aLfie is a doting and dedicated father to his now ten-year-old son, Evawwen.

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