Early signs of a glorious Ashcroft comeback are apparent. A sell-out UK tour in the pipeline, a fabulous Live 8 reception and performance, and mass praise from heavy-weights such as Coldplay seem set to help connect him back on the fast-track to success.
Keys to the World is evidence that Ashcroft has managed to re-enter the zones of his song-writing brilliance the world woke up to with Urban Hymns. Pilot single, Break the Night With Colour, has re-introduced the charts to his mellow late-nineties sound, and although perhaps unfashionable, is a breath of fresh air. But it is the album’s title track which is the initial favourite to steal the show: spine-tingling vocals, caressingly delicate guitar licks laid on top of a thumping merge of rhythmic and bass-line grooves with an Unfinished Symphony-esque female vocal loop.
Built around these two (arguably Keys’ most poignant moments) is a collection of beautifully arranged acoustic and string ballads. Why Do Lover’s is a sheer emotionally uplifting love song exposing Ashcroft’s softer side perhaps, yet still boasts his raw and enriching rock and roll vocals, not dissimilar to Mick Jagger, who’s likeness pops up occasionally throughout.
Still, Ashcroft dares not to stray too far from his comfort zone, however his attention to detail has to be admired. He himself admits due to negative critical feedback of his works since The Verve’s demise, he became disillusioned with the industry. Keys To The World should serve as an appropriately rewarding return to form.
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