Review: Gerry Beckley Maintains Momentum on ‘Aurora’

Gerry Beckley/Aurora/Blue Elan Records
Three Out of Five Stars

America is an indelible institution, and while some may say that about the country for which they were christened, in this case, the reference alludes to the musical duo of the same name. Granted, the pair’s output has mostly been relegated to archival recordings of late, but the sounds they shared early on remain essential offerings as far as the soft rock genre as an ongoing entity is concerned.

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Although the two still manage to tour, Gerry Beckley that mostly maintains the momentum, given the fact that his solo outings have mostly represented the brand for the past several years. Consequently, his new release, Aurora, is the closest one can come to an actual America album nowadays. Beckley’s vocals retain their tender texture, but sans the harmonies shared with his partner, Dewey Bunnel, the difference in designs is obvious. The songs conform to a classic adult contemporary format, without bothering to bend any boundaries.  Yet there’s little here that sounds especially striking, especially compared to the memorable melodies that characterized America’s sound early on.

Of course, that’s not to say that Aurora lacks essence. “May To Go” is the album’s most decisive offering and the one that comes closest to the America template. “Tickets to the Past” shares a co-write with Bunnell, and though it starts with delicate designs, it eventually builds towards an emphatic conclusion. Mostly though, the songs take a quiet and contemplative tone, with “I Fall Down,” “Superscope,” “Never Know Why,” “Aerial,” and “Friends Are Hard To Find” all opting for more precious posturing. 

Still, the chances are that diehard America enthusiasts will embrace this album thanks to its unobtrusive allure. While one might miss the connection to the duo’s signature sound, the melodies are still well plied with comfort and caress. 

Photo courtesy Blu élan Records

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