Gerry Beckley – Aurora
A little late in coming to me but this is a pleasant collection well worth the wait. It’s as expected — simple lyrics with fluid melodies from veteran singer-songwriter Gerry Beckley (still a member of America with Dewey Bunnell since 1970). This set maintains the quality of that group musically, arrangement-wise it’s conceived with a flair for being equally attractive though somewhat different.
Warm harmonica & deep guitar notes in “I Fall Down,” surround the elementary lyrics but when weaved together it has luster. The music isn’t maudlin like The Blue Nile or taken into a sugary pop direction of Hall & Oates. Beckley does what he does best & applies his skillful songwriting to tunes such as “Never Know Why.” This almost tetters into a serious Beach Boys style & the lyrics are more thought-provoking.
The 39-minute Aurora (Dropped in July 2022–Blue Elan Records) was produced by Gerry with Jeff Larson (backing vocals). The 11-tracks were recorded in Australia & California. What you don’t get with Gerry’s solo work is discounted America music. Beckley has his own ambitious flirtation with what he does comfortably. He achieves it well, unlike many artists who go the solo route. Even the great late vocalist Bobby Hatfield of The Righteous Brothers issued a solo album but nothing on it came close to what he did with Bill Medley.
A song written with partner/vocalist Dewey Bunnell (“Tickets To The Past”) is a poignant swipe but it’s mindful of the music that was produced by The Korgis (“If I Had You,” “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime”). That’s a compliment because that band was highly melodic & had a strong Beatlesque showcase.
“Tears,” is constructed in a near-Bee Gees tradition vocally & melodically. Done respectfully. None of these songs are intended to recapture early America (“Horse With No Name,” “Tin Man,” “Sandman,” & “Ventura Highways”). Even our hairlines are not the same color.
The package I received was impressively designed with multiple color cards of images with lyrics on the reverse side & while many songwriters write from a storytelling perspective many of Gerry’s tunes are actually conversations set to music. Simple words, the way one would speak, not too heavy on clever phrases, no Dylan-word salad. Its music & sparkling arrangements take center stage & Gerry’s vivid vocals that add individuality. It’s an excellent recording overall, with no blemishes, no nostalgia, or pomposity.
Musicians: Gerry (lead vocal, keyboards, acoustic/electric guitars, harmonica, horns, mellotron, accordion, bass, drums, clavinet, bouzouki, choir, orchestrations), Jason Scheff & Jonathan Zwartz (bass), Ryland Steen (drums), Nick Lane (horns/trombone), Chris Bleth (oboe), Jeffrey Foskett (backing vocals), Steve Fekete (electric guitar/slide guitar) & Nick Rosen (violin).
Highlights – “Friends Are Hard To Find,” (Beach Boys meet James Taylor), “Peace of Mind,” “Indy’s Gatho” (an instrumental) & the strong & memorable “Aerial.”
Enjoy our interview, here: