After The Verve predictably disintegrated, not for the first time, after the solid gold classic album Urban Hymns, released back in 1997, Richard Ashcroft, the singer-songwriter of The Verve, needed to carve out a solo career to musically survive. Being the excellent musician that Richard Ashcroft is, he put together this album three years after Urban Hymns to prove to the world he was still a huge presence musically. Indeed, some of the songs that ended up being on this album were originally recorded for Urban Hymns but were not released at the time. Let’s take a listen to this album, and hear what we have got.
A Song For The Lovers begins the album with some melancholy sounding strings and some rather out there instrumentation, including bongos. Soon enough, this tune gets going and Richard Ashcroft begins singing nicely. A good tune from the outset, this sounds a little psychedelic as well. This is a decent piece of music for what it is. This is very much post-Urban Hymns territory but sounds beautiful and majestic in any case. There is a weird guitar solo section around the middle of the song before Richard Ashcroft resumes singing. In short, this is good, even if it is no Bittersweet Symphony. Richard Ashcroft proved to his audience that indeed he could cut out a good stage on his own. A good tune influenced by a wide variety of music, the harmonies at the end are sweet and audibly edible. A good song, although a bit lengthy, to be fair.
I Get My Beat begins with some decent strings and lush instrumentation, such as acoustic guitar, to accompany it. This song quickly launches into action. It’s good. It may be original and adventurous, but aside from that, there is nothing that screams impressive about these songs. It’s good but just not great. Richard Ashcroft does come across as a great musical poet though, and some of the supporting instrumentation is really quite nice. It just doesn’t sound really as great as it could do. Also, this piece is well over six minutes long, which requires some patience to get through. Sounding somewhat 1960s in the solo section, this sounds like Richard Ashcroft doing Burt Bacharach. Anyway, it is good to hear and sounds different. It’s just that it could have been edited, especially at this length. The string sections throughout are a nice touch to hear, however. The singing by Richard Ashcroft is quite good as well. The outro is very much sublime, a nice job well done here.
Brave New World is not the same as the Aldous Huxley novel released decades before this was released. Instead, it is a gentle and lush sounding piece with some great singing and guitar playing from Richard Ashcroft. Indeed, Ashcroft himself is a fine lyricist, and this song proves that. This is a huge improvement on what came before it and just sounds really awesome and amazing. Sounding euphoric and confident, Richard Ashcroft does a really great delivery of simple classic Pop/Rock. Very wonderful and lovely to listen to, this is a must hear for those who have heard The Verve, but want more music in a similar way to hear. “I hope I see you on the inside,” chants Richard Ashcroft, in amongst wah-wah style instrumentation. A very decent and upbeat tune that sounds awesome. The string section in the second half is irresistible and gorgeous. A really decent tune to hear, and this comes alive, especially towards the end. Nice tune, with some unusual wah-wah guitar to finish. Good job.
New York begins with some simple drum parts, deep basslines and psychedelic sounds. This is a good tune instantly upon listening, and it sounds like a more melancholy song than what was delivered on Urban Hymns and other earlier releases by The Verve. Regardless, this is a good Rock song but, yet again, probably a bit too long length wise, being well over five minutes when this song could have been three minutes long. Anyway, it is good for what it is, with more wah-wah guitar parts and processed psychedelic sounds. The chorus in particular is very catchy and points to the fact that Richard Ashcroft rivalled Noel Gallagher as a songwriter, in particular. Nonetheless, a great song to hear, even if it has its own flaws. Very catchy tune, and great to listen to, with some repeated and looped vocals towards the end. One of the better pieces from this album. It ends with pummelling breakbeats and other weird sound effects, great though.
You On My Mind In My Sleep begins with some nice acoustic guitar, organ and some more wah-wah guitar parts. Strings enter, and we get underway. This is a huge and beautiful piece of music, and it sounds joyful and relaxing. In fact, this is very inspired listening and just sounds amazing. Soon enough, this piece launches into a gorgeous musical ballad that does terrifically. Although it sounds rather Country Music esque, this is without question a really great song. A lively, lovely and life-affirming piece of music, Richard Ashcroft proves that he wasn’t some one hit wonder here. Instead, he delivers incredibly well on these songs. An awesome and euphoric listen, the second half has some very nice strings, well-mixed vocals and other amazing sounds about it. This pseudo-psychedelic piece is a must-listen from this album. A wonderful and tripped out listen, definitely worth your time. The long fade out has some great multitracked vocals. Excellent.
Crazy World begins with a strange collection of sounds that are sampled, before quickly launching into a good Classic Rock styled groove. Richard Ashcroft sings from the heart, and he does very well on this album doing so. In any case, this is another driving and decent tune that sounds brilliant to this day. Although these songs present on this album are really excellent, they easily could have been edited down for length’s sake. Regardless, this is an interesting and intriguing listen, and Richard Ashcroft does his postmodern poetry very well. In the second half are some interesting guitar solos, and this piece sounds really cool and awesome. Simple, yet melodic and beautiful music, this is a really nice tune for its deep and meaningful sentiment. A solid gold great effort, worth your time. The looped sounds at the end take the mind places where the mind usually does not go. Brilliant, however.
On A Beach begins with some multitracked wah-wah guitars that have a neat amount of editing on them. This quickly launches into a good piece of music. Richard Ashcroft sings in a gloriously calm voice, and he sounds as though he is at his awesome best. Sure, the songs on this album are quite lengthy but still, this is a great listen throughout. The lyrics in particular are worth noting, and there are some Jazzy horn parts in this as well. Another fine and excellent song by Richard Ashcroft, this proves his power of singer/songwriter artistry. He evokes the best of human emotions, whilst delivering simple, yet wonderfully effective music. There is a nice guitar solo in the second half which sounds simple, yet pretty. There is some nice stereo panned and reversed electronic sounds, prior to the singing resuming. This is wonderfully brilliant and just hits the musical spot nicely. One of the best cuts from this album, it has a nice and gentle fade out. Excellent.
Money To Burn begins with slide guitar, bongos and other interesting instrumentation that sounds really cool. Richard Ashcroft semi-raps in this country sounding tune, which is actually surprisingly good, given that those two genres are very much the opposite of one another. This album is proof that Richard Ashcroft is a force of nature on his own. There is some brilliant harmonica on this tune as well, and this is really great music to hear. A cool and excellent listen, this is proof that a positive attitude and music together win every time. Richard Ashcroft does excellently on this album, and the mood present is upbeat. A really clever and amazing tune, this is about love over money. A really awesome listen, the second has some great guitar solo instrumentation that sounds superb. The instrumentation flows in and out of consciousness, not unlike an LSD trip or something similar. The song section eventually resumes, and this is quintessential listening for any fan of The Verve or Richard Ashcroft. Nice work on this mate, you deserve the best praise here for your amazing art. The looped vocals and neat Jazzy blues instrumentation finish this off in the fade out. Great job.
Slow Was My Heart begins with some odd EDM Roland style beats before this tune gets kicking away well. This is a much shorter piece of music than what was previous, it is just under four minutes long. There are electronic textures, slide guitars and other beautiful sounds galore. This is a pretty and moving piece of music that just hits the spot. It’s very unusual for Richard Ashcroft to be influenced by country music, it is a bit of a strange turnaround musically here. A nice, gentle and relaxing piece of music, you can definitely lie down and close your eyes to this song. A really wonderful listen from start to finish. The vocal harmonies at the end are pretty cool, too. Beautiful song.
C’mon People (We’re Making It Now) begins with some effects laden guitars, piano and another pseudo-country music sounding song. In any case, this is another really cool and excellent tune by Richard Ashcroft. He comes across as a postmodern Bob Dylan: carving out poetry and lyricism to music. If anyone ever needed some euphoria via that format, one should look no further. Richard Ashcroft sounds super positive on this song, and the guitars and other instrumentation match that. Singing from the heart, Richard Ashcroft does wonderfully on this song. An amazing and life affirming piece of music, we are lucky to hear such great and unique music in the 21st century. This is a great song, although the length of this song is not for everyone at over five minutes long. Still, our main man sings beautifully and simply. No screaming or other vocal tricks, Richard Ashcroft is a great singer/songwriter. Period. Nice tune, again gradually fading out. Nice.
Everybody is the last track on this album. It begins with nicely cut-up drum beats, a mellow string section and a really gorgeous musical backdrop. Eventually, Richard Ashcroft gets singing and does very well once again. Clearly the most talented member of The Verve, he makes for a unique and amazing song imagery that very few in the history of music have ever achieved. More slide guitars are present in this song, and it comes across as a decent and calm song to listen to. Sure, this is over six minutes long, but all the same is really worth your time. A really awesome piece of music, there is a very The Rolling Stones style guitar solo in the middle of the song, with a load of wah-wah treatment. In any case, this is a totally underrated song, along with the rest of the album. With chanted lyrics and a spirited attitude, Richard Ashcroft works wonders musically. In the second half are some really excellent harmonies and a variety of sounds and song textures to boot. Fine listening, this is a case of music that fits the Pop/Rock scene very well. Towards the end is strummed acoustic guitar, piano and some more interesting guitar parts. This eventually becomes more stripped back, before finishing with a bunch of psychedelic electronics. Brilliant.
This is most definitely an underrated release to this day. Richard Ashcroft proved to the world that he was more than just the singer in The Verve. In fact, by all rights, he makes beautiful and unforgettable music for many people to enjoy. The flaw of this album? The songs are rather lengthy. Sure, it’s not an Oasis Be Here Now moment in terms of length of the album but it does require some patient listening. Otherwise, a great album to hear.
Unique and moving.