This is more like an open letter to Rick Astley than an album review, though the timing is right to review his new album Beautiful Life. (disclaimer: I know absolutely nothing about music except whether I like it or not).
So – Dear Rick:
Thank you for bringing out this album, and simply, for just being active. I think I speak on behalf of all your fans when I say we’re so appreciative of that.
I loved your previous album, 50, but I love this one more. It’s filled with powerful, emotive songs, and they all make me feel valued and validated.
The title song is Beautiful Life and the lyrics include ‘it’s a beautiful life, alright, alright’. The problem is that sometimes it just – isn’t. When (for example) you’re trying to support two kids with different needs, when work is uncertain, when business is under threat by various factors, when your country is facing almost insurmountable problems and when you are judged from every angle and have no external support, you actually don’t know where to find the strength to get up the next day and fight on and keep it together for the kids, and there are very few places you can turn, it’s not that beautiful. I don’t know if these struggles are symptomatic of the age your core fans are at or if they’re just mine specifically. But they’re hard, and that’s the power of this song – the message that there’s beauty in everything if you look for it is something we all need to be reminded of from time to time. If you listen enough, that message starts to rub off. And the beauty IS there, as evidenced by my and all the other fans’ #BeautifulLife posts across social media. Thanks for making me do that and reminding myself to look for the joy.
I just wonder, Rick, if you realise just how much your music touches the world around you. How much you tweak the golden thread. That’s what the premise of this site is – the golden thread. It’s my effort to give back to those who tweak the golden thread. There’s a select group of people in the world who rely on the tweakers of the golden thread to get through the day when they’re abandoned by the more traditional means of coping. Those whose work travels across space and time, countries and generations. It’s impossible to express how powerful that is and how grateful we are.
When at the age of 12 I became a fan in 1987, it wasn’t clear how much your music would be a source of joy and comfort throughout my life. Would have to say that not only does it help me, it also helps those who support me. My son has become a huge fan too. We’re #TeamRick, and by default you’re on #TeamPaynter. The music makes me feel safe, and loved, there’s a sense of trust, because in the end, unlike many others, you never did give me up (sorry for the cliche).
It’s really great to be part of the Rick Astley fandom, too. Have made so many friends and love joining in the social activities, tweeting and posting, and the live streaming too!! I’m so grateful to today’s technology which allows me here in South Africa to hear your new releases on the same day as the rest of the world and even buy from your site to influence the charts! However, at the end of the day, my fanship is incredibly personal. I’m not so worried about owning every format, listening to every interview, etc. It’s about the music. The songs that talk to me on a personal level. Many times, people reach in to your life to take something out. This album reaches in to stay and spread.
I don’t know if I’m going to make it, but I’m going to try. I’m a writer who doesn’t write, and an artist who doesn’t do any art, but today I wrote and drew.
I’ve got my favourites on this album. To coin a phrase, Shivers gives me chills. I love She Makes Me because I know it’s the way my husband feels about me and it makes me feel loved. But my absolute favourite is The Last Night on Earth – it takes a while to get going but when it does it’s just a total earworm. But really the message it gives is how we all need to be. It should be the next single, because it’s the type of song that other people will cover in 20 years time and the message is powerful and strong.
And so to end off, Rick, I hope you get that British number one. You deserve it, and from us fans’ side, we’ll just keep posting and listening (a bit like Dory who kept swimming!). I’d love to interview you on this site and delve more into how you tweak the golden thread. The audience is quite large and if you want it, it’s there in spades. And there are a lot of fans waiting for you here in South Africa when you come back.
Love Gaynor and The Paynters.
If you haven’t got Beautiful Life already, go get it. It’s available in South Africa and most if not all countries on iTunes and Spotify. You can also order it from Rick’s website. And it’s available across all outlets in the UK and many in the States and Canada.