Even more impressive than America’s new CD, Here & Now, is Beckley’s new solo effort, Horizontal Fall, which preceded the band’s project by a few months. A melodic, atmospheric masterpiece, Horizontal Fall was some six years in the making, Beckley says, but it sounds like it was recorded in its entirety in one late-night surge of creative melancholy.
From the instrumental keyboard opener, “3am”, a stunning cinematic piece that sounds like something from Ennio Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso score, to “With Me Always”, which wears Beckley’s undeniable Beatles influences comfortably, this record showcases Gerry’s genius for creating perfect pop songs. Every song fits together poetically, but the standout is the closing track, “Somewhere Somehow”, an ethereal, longing tune with a kind of Burt Bacharach vibe, complete with French horn reminiscent of the instrumentation in “What the World Needs Now (is Love) ”.
Beckley, who owns a bunch of Taylors, puts all of them to very good use on both the America record and the solo outing, which he appropriately chose to illustrate with a hazy, taken-at-dusk photo of an unidentified beachside amusement park roller coaster. It’s a moody, poignant cover shot that perfectly represents what’s inside.
If you set aside a half hour or so and listen to Horizontal Fall from start to finish, you will be dazzled by the melodic artistry that is Gerry Beckley. If you’re a true fan of America, it won’t surprise you. If you’re not, it may. Those expecting “Sister Golden Hair” may be disappointed with Beckley’s solo disc, but anyone who’s actually been paying attention and listening to America’s records over the last 36 years won’t.
Beckley is a masterful singer-songwriter whose songs have always been wonderfully conflicted, with elements of sadness and joy, self-doubt and cockiness, cynicism and innocence and, ultimately, hope. There’s a reason why his band once attracted the services of legendary Beatles producer George Martin. What a comforting, reassuring feeling to know that, so late in the game, Beckley and his band are making some of the best music of their careers.
— Jamie Reno
Taylor Guitars On Review
Few duos are as durable as America, so it’s somewhat surprising to find Gerry Beckley scoping out a solo career alongside his ongoing collaboration with partner Dewey Bunnell. What’s less unexpected is that the new album – his third outside effort, following 1999’s excellent Van Go Gan and 2000’s equally satisfying Like A Brother, a collaboration with Chicago’s Robert Lamm and late Beach Boy Carl Wilson – holds precisely to the America formula: plenty of light, breezy melodies and quiet contemplation. It’s certainly not hard to imagine Bunnell’s trademark harmonies wafting through the proceedings, especially when Beckley’s overdubbed vocals do double duty. Considering the uniform excellence of these songs, it probably wasn’t easy divvying up the tunes between this solo set and his contributions to the band.
Still, there could be worse dilemmas. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Beckley hasn’t suffered any slip in quality over the years. Indeed, most of the tracks on Horizontal Fall could have fit comfortably on any of America’s albums, such as the songs “Crying,” “Saturday Sky,” “I’ll Be Gone,” and “Keeping The Light On.” Each bears a hint of instant familiarity, a feeling driven home via catchy choruses and the somewhat melancholic sensibility that has always marked the best of America’s soft-spun standards.
Ultimately, the album’s lingering afterglow reverberates clearly. It gives cause to ponder how, after all this time, Beckley is still able to mine such gorgeous material in such a seemingly inexhaustible supply. A group album is due later this year, augmented by special guests and an advance buzz. For now, however, Beckley can claim his own America masterpiece.
"We are measured in time, so we stand on our spot"...The new solo effort from America founding member Gerry Beckley delivers on many levels. Horizontal Fall is a testament to the craft of songwriting and a mature statement by an artist comfortable in his own skin. The opening "3 AM" informs the listener early on that this is not the product of youth ridden angst. This is rather a well sung song, well played set of music that retains its relevance by staying true to itself. There are many textures throughout the proceedings from the infectious pop of "Crying" and "Keeping The Light On"; the image-laden "Saturday Sky" and John Fields' produced "Lazarus"' the poignant "Here and Now" to some of the most well crafted ballads you're likely to hear in "I'll Be Gone", "Arms" and "Somewhere, Somehow". The vocal, guitar and keyboard work are all Beckley with some notable guests, including Low's Alan Spearhawk and Mimi Parker, drummer Russ Kunkel and Poco's Rusty Young.
20th Century Guitar