When a musician becomes rich, famous and successful, they evolve into an entirely different species.
They are no longer human, they are now bona-fide Rockstars. Something that no mortal could ever fully comprehend. So what exactly Richard Ashcroft can enlighten mankind about in relation to ‘human conditions’ with his extravagant rockstar lifestyle is a bit of a mystery.
Or, if you hazard a guess, very little. “Human Conditions” is Ashcroft’s second solo album, also known as “Alone With Everybody” Mark II. For in the making of this record, Ashcroft evidently took the blueprint from that, his first record after the Verve disbanded, and, well, he made an exact carbon copy of it. But hey, why change a winning formula for the sake of a little musical diversity?
From the opening chords of recent single “Check The Meaning” (virtually identical to “You On My Mind In My Sleep” from the aforementioned debut), you know what you are going to get. And there are no surprises, no unexpected changes in style, no alternating moods. Ashcroft does wistful, he does loved-up and he does slow, pompous, string-driven and melodramatic songs. And that’s about your lot.
He goes all honky-tonk on us with “Bright Lights” which leads to the conclusion that he’s harbouring a secret desire to be Ryan Adams. That’s about as adventurous as he gets. ‘Don’t drink me/I’m like turpentine/Make you blind/Burn your insides’ he croons gently on “Running Away”. And he’s blatantly lying; he’s about as dangerous as a basket of fluffy newborn kittens and as threatening as bullets made of sponge.
But chances are if you are going to buy this record you know all this. You know good ol’ reliable Dickie is bound to bang out another solid album. You don’t want him straying from the formula; you don’t want to be shocked. You know that he won’t change and that’s precisely what you love about him. Like Supergrass, Ashcroft has made the follow-up record you knew he’d make.
So, each to their own. If you wanted Ashcroft to stay the same, your wish has been granted. But if you were hoping for a progressive, forward-thinking and exciting record in any way shape or form, you’re out of luck.