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Asia - Aura CD (album) cover




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3.27 | 152 ratings

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4 stars Another fairly great Asia album, two in a row! Though most of the musicians from the debut are gone, Geoff Downes pulls it together with tons of session musicians and John Payne, who has stayed with the band since the 1992 release Aqua. This album is in the same vein as Asia's 1996 album, Arena, which takes in some slightly Jazz influences, and this album is no different. There is a mellower vibe than other albums, and is certainly excellent in some songs.

1.Awake - A fairly good opening track, though it does not sound like the rest of the album. It's fairly poppy, but much different from mainstream pop, as though sound much more upbeat, with lush keyboards, and slightly jazzy guitar playing. The vocal melody is great, and the vocals are excellent. The lyrics, as always, have room for improvement, but do the job, for this kind of music, just fine. A great way to start the album. (8.5/10)

2.Wherever You Are - An average track, nothing really special. It's mellower than other Asia tracks, but it sometimes seems to be a forced laid back, for this song at least. It's too standard, and can't really get anything other than decent musicianship and cheesey lyrics. (7/10)

3.Ready to go Home - An interesting track, with absolutly terrible lyrics. The music itself is fairly nice, some good jazz influences mixed with pop rock, but it's the lyrics. Everything just seems to not work for the lyrics. The music wins a little bit, but it's almost skip worthy because of this flaw. (7/10)

4.The Last Time - Certainly better than the past two average tracks, it's a sophisticated and classy pop track, with a fairly great hook played on the keyboard that starts the song. The vocals and lyrics are sang with passion, and make the sometimes boring lyrics seem a bit better. This track is a personal favourite because of it's subtle virtuosity. (8.5/10)

5.Forgive Me - An almost futuristic intro is played on the keyboards is augmented by a repeating guitar line, not much is really going on. Asia have tried this before with some success, and that happens again here. The track turns into a heavy jazz type song, very upbeat type of track. Nice playing throughout. (8/10)

6.Kings of the Day - A very dramatic track. The song has some lush keyboards and excellently played guitar, tinged with some jazz influences about. The drumming on this track is very nice, actually. The whole rhythm section is really working out here, and puts the song in the forefront. The lyrics arent great, as usual with Asia, but the music overpowers. (9/10)

7.On the Coldest Day in Hell - Another great track here, with some story telling lyrics that actually seem structured and better than anything Asia has done before, lyrically at least. The music is fairly soft rock, but has a feel that cannot be matched from the other tracks and stands as one of my favourite guitar parts on the album. Of course the steady drumbeat is also appreciated. (9/10)

8.Free - The best track on the album, hands down, and the most progressive of all the tracks. A steady technology rocker opens with soft keyboards, then turns into a synth dosed futuristic rocking track that cannot be missed. The chord progression is simple, but sounds so good with the hard attack of the bass line. The fast drumbeat is always a toe tapper and is always forceful. Nice lyrics as well. (10/10)

9.You're the Stranger - Something of an oddity, not really that grand, but still has a very large and jazzy, smooth sound. This is always a favourite as well, nice drumbeat is played with lush keyboard playing. The guitar playing is very good, jazzy feeling that is always keeping up with the rest of the band. Payne's vocal performance is excellent. (9.5/10)

10.The Longest Night - A overly dramatic track with searing guitar, pompus drums, and lusher-than-life keyboards. The vocal melodies seem to be average to me, but they work with this kind of song. A layered track that isn't very memorable, but musically speaking, is very good. (8/10)

11.Aura - Favourite after favourite it seems with this album, everything about this track is emotional and great. The steady and fast jazz beat is always heavy and will make anyone grooze. Great keyboards layer on eachother, with lighting fast jazz guitar playing that is so excellent, you will not recognize it's Asia. Jazz pop at it's best. (10/10)

This is the album that I consider my favourite, and cannot be touched by any other Asia albums. The music is jazzy, sophisticated, and, at times, progressive in many cases. This is a 4 star album all the way through, and it cannot really get any better with jazz rock pop (besides Steely Dan of course), but for Asia, it's a milestone.

Jazzywoman | 4/5 |


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