BOTTOM LINE Never giving up keeps paying off for Astley
Rick Astley really should become the spokesman for AARP. His post-50 comeback was no fluke and his new album, “Beautiful Life” (BMG), proves it.
Like he did on his “50” album, which topped the British charts in 2016 and spawned an international tour, Astley, now 52, wrote all the songs and played all the instruments on “Beautiful Life,” in addition to producing it. And somehow his sense of adult pop seems even keener now than it was in the late-'80s, “Never Gonna Give You Up” days.
On the title track, Astley flavors the Maroon 5-ish pop with a bit of disco guitar and reggae-tinged backing vocals. On the catchy “Shivers,” he finds the middle ground between Imagine Dragons and The Lumineers. And on “Better Together,” his soulful vocals show how well he fits in with the current crop of British pop stars like Adele and Sam Smith.
He’s at his best, though, when the songs are simplest. The gorgeous “Empty Heart” may hark back to the sweet pop of boy bands like Take That, but it still rings true, as does “Try,” which conjures up early Coldplay and should corral him another British smash.