Review: These People by Richard Ashcroft

These People by Richard AshcroftFor the most part it’s an interesting question: if you’ve long been identified by a particular body of work, and you strike out on your own, what do you exactly do? Britpop luminaries have long grappled with this question, to mixed results. Suede‘s Brett Anderson went the orchestral route, and later the pastoral one, on his solo efforts before he regrouped his band. Noel Gallagher, on the other hand, stuck with his sweeping anthems – the trademark of his most memorable songs with Oasis. Richard Ashcroft has done many things – he hasn’t swung wildly from the template he set as the frontman of the Verve, but he did provide different flavors, from electronic to organic, in his solo efforts. These People, however, sees him definitely return to the sound that made him famous, going as far as recruiting familiar faces – in this case, the co-producer and string arranger of that band’s most iconic album, Urban Hymns. The results can be good – “This Is How It Feels” is comfortable; “Black Lines” is poignant – but listening to the record feels like he’s just trying to do “Unfinished Symphony” ten times. After four attempts or so – all hovering at the five-minute mark – it gets uninteresting, and nothing quite saves it from a black hole of past glories. [NB]2/5

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