Saturday, January 21, 2006
Richard Ashcroft - Keys to the World
****1/2 of *****
Matt Blalock

The other day an old friend asked me what I had been listening to lately and I answered quickly, “A lot.” which seemed to confuse him, but after explaining this site, he completely understood, but he persisted. It took me a while to think of what had been played most not being able to simply check my iTunes, but then I remembered Richard Ashcroft. His almost-released album Keys to the World has been playing almost on repeat since I got a hold of it.

Ashcroft is by no means new to the music scene, although he may be new to some of you. At 18 he and his college buddies formed Verve, which after their official sophomore album were regarded by Noel Gallagher as the second best band in the UK following behind Oasis. .

In March 1996, Ashcroft made his first solo appearance at Paramount in New York. Shortly after this appearance Verve reunited, and began to record another album. Their return single was released in June 1997 and reached number 2 on the UK charts. In October, the album ‘Urban Hymns’ was released. This album as well topped the charts.

As you can see, Ashcroft has been on top of the scene for the better part of his career. ‘Keys to the World’ will put him in no different place. Although it wasn’t until April 2000 that his first solo single, ‘A Song For The Lovers’ was released, almost a full year after the official break up of The Verve, the single still managed to reach Number 3. It seemed no one had forgotten who Richard Ashcroft was.

If someone told me this was recorded in the late 60’s or the early 70’s I would have no trouble believing them.
"I write tunes imagining all kinds of people being able to listen to them, he says. Whether they're into hip-hop, soul, blues or jazz. My music is a real thick stew that takes from so many places.” says Ashcroft. This album is nothing but Ashcroft then. In one word, melodic.

The songs direct attention to recent world-wide problems, and of course the power of music.
“I know, sometimes we all want to give in
These strange, strange vain days were living in
I know, sometimes we all want to give up
Don’t give up, alright, alright
Let the melody flow all night, all night
Cause music is power,
Its easing your soul
Rocking like a cradle
It wont let you go
If the melody is timeless
It wont let you down
Feel the air moving
Submit to the sound”

Basically, this album is awesome. This album is one of power; the melodic ways of Ashcroft “flow through your mind.” The backing of strings and the sensational voice of Ashcroft reminds me of Bob Dylan in some ways. It will likely be one of my least-expected favorite releases of 2006. Check it out when it is released on Feb. 4th in the US, or even preorder this one.


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