Richard Ashcroft (former singer of the Verve) has announced plans to release his first new album in six years. The forthcoming album is to be titled “These People”. The singer, described once by music press as the shaman of rock or the heir to Mick Jagger, has also premiered the first single from the new album, “This is how it feels”. If the single is any indicator, fans are in for a great record, showcasing the classic songwriting familiar from the Verve and his experimentation with electronic sound flourishes.
The song is a reminder not only of Ashcroft’s solid solo career but also of the time spent fronting one of the greatest groups of the 90’s, the Verve. Following three full length albums, the Verve split up after the release of their most successful one of these, Urban Hymns. Just as the group had moved past the initial critical acceptance showed in Britain and had broken through the charts in the U.S.
with singles like Lucky man and Bittersweet symphony they called it quits. According to myth, relationships within the group were always strained. Equally so, the strain seem to create tension that was brought out effectively in the Verve’s effervescent recordings.
Ashcroft released his first solo album Alone with everybody in 2000. The record’s instrumentation was more sparse and acted as a vehicle for Ashcroft’s growing songwriting skills. The single A song for the lovers was a hit in Britain. The singer continued in his familiar confident manner with the albums “Human conditions” and the excellent “Keys to the world”. The soulful sound of the latter, brought Ashcroft back into the general public’s attention and onto radio with songs like Break the night with colour and Words just get in the way.
By the time Ashcroft appeared with Coldplay at Live 8 he had long acquired the status of legend. A title that the confident singer made sure that the public knew he was aware of. Himself and Coldplay performed a version of the giant Verve hit Bittersweet symphony. Coldplay frontman Christ Martin introduced Ashcroft and the tune as “the best song ever written, and here’s the best singer in the world”.
The Verve themselves reunited in 2007 to the excitement of fans, especially British ones. They released one album, Forth and the single Love is noise was possibly one of their career highlights. The sound of the album featured the trademark neo-psychedelia of the band, the electronic instrumentation building an impenetrable wall of sound and of course, Ashcroft’s own passionate singing. It was to
be a short reunion, as many had in fact expected. The group went on an extended “holiday” starting with 2008.
Ashcroft continued with his interest in electronic beats and loops on the album credited as RPA & The United Nations of Sound. The record received less favorable reviews then the frontman had been accustomed to getting throughout his career. It was the last release for six years.
Which brings us here. Richard Ashcroft is back from exile and on form, ready to release a new record. Expectations for new music by the artist are naturally high. In a recent interview, Ashcroft discussed his new record with NME magazine, who also has him on the cover of the latest edition.