Graham Clark, Music Features Writer

Albums: Rick Astley - Are We There Yet?

Rick Astley - Are We There Yet?

Dippin My Feet; Letting Go; Golden Hour; Never Gonna Stop; Close (Your Shoes); High Enough; Forever and More; Driving Me Crazy; Maria Love; Take Me Back To Your Place; Waterfall; Blue Sky.

BMG RECORDS: Catalogue Number: 4050538940299

Forever associated with his worldwide hit Never Gonna Give You Up, Rick Astley has had a renaissance over the last few years, helped initially by the Rickrolling phenomenon on the internet.

Returning with his first new album in five years, Are We There Yet? is as far away as you could possibly get from the Stock, Aitken, and Waterman songs that initially propelled him into stardom back in the late eighties.

In complete contrast to his early recordings, this new album is co-produced, written, and played by Astley. The overall sound is one of an artist discovering his own path and following it.

Opening up with Dippin My Feet, the song is a bluesy Memphis-style number that could be the cousin to The Rolling Stones’ Brown Sugar.

Never Gonna Stop comes complete with a gospel choir, one of many unexpected moments that run throughout the album.

His Motown influences shine through on Close (Your Shoes) and Forever More, bright and breezy pop numbers that herald the sound of Rick Astley in 2023.

As he sings on album closer Blue Sky, “I’m a man of steel and rust; my concrete heart is crumbling to dust," the lyric might sound weary, though Astley sounds back on form on this tender ballad.

If the majority of his audience still want him to try and regurgitate songs like Together Forever and the like, Astley is on a completely different road now. Instead, they should come along for the ride, and you will not be disappointed.