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    Descending Into Darkness: Coldplay Support Act, Richard Ashcroft

    richardashcroft1.jpgRiaan Wolmarans reviews former Verve vocalist, Richard Ashcroft's latest offering Keys to the World


    Tall and gangly, with shaggy hair topping his scrawny frame, erstwhile Verve vocalist Richard Ashcroft sounds more solid, gritty and weary of life than one might expect. He’s been quiet for some time, probably licking his wounds after the failure of his second solo album, Human Conditions (though he did appear on stage with Coldplay at last year’s Live 8 concert in London to perform The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony, where Chris Martin introduced him as “the best singer in the world”).


    Now Ashcroft returns with Keys to the World (EMI), which is simply not a happy album. His unassuming performance is more morose than that of the Gallagher brothers, but also more sincere than David Gray, which is no mean feat. Opening track Why Not Nothing? is glib British rock and one hopes for more of the same but, from track two, the lackadaisical Music is Power, the mood darkens with each song.The slowest tracks -- such as the soul-baring Words Just Get in the Way; Cry Til the Morning, on which Ashcroft appears simply distraught; and the countryish Sweet Brother Malcolm (who is under house arrest and the talk of the town, not to mention sweet cousin Mary) -- lay it on too thick. Here and there Ashcroft even sounds (unintentionally, one must hope) a little bit like Jon Bon Jovi on weepy hits of the past like Bed of Roses.


    Nevertheless, the songs are well constructed, although Ashcroft could do with less anguish and more verve. The beautiful string melody on Why Do Lovers?, the likeable World Keeps Turning, the sensitive textures of the single Break the Night with Colour ... all these elements and more make Keys to the World a reasonably appealing album. It’s ultimately not that much different in tone from Human Conditions, but it is certainly more captivating and should fare better.


    Source: chico.mweb.co.za

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