Lee’s Listening Stack: Richard Ashcroft – ‘United Nations of Sound’
United Nations of Sound
Razor & Tie
Richard Ashcroft has always been an artist with grand ambitions. Beginning with his band The Verve and culminating in the big breakthrough achieved with their opus “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” he quickly established himself as someone of significance, elevating himself into the British Rock hierarchy in the process. Unfortunately though, his progress has sometimes been impeded, hampered by illness, band break-ups and lawsuits that derailed his forward momentum at its most crucial junctures.
Notably then, United Nations of Sound marks an assured and assertive return. His first album in four years and fourth overall, it represents his most ambitious effort yet. The torrent of effusive instrumentation borne by “Are You Ready” signals Ashcroft’s intents to make this a grandiose statement, one that embraces exorbitant arrangements, soaring strings and steadfast rhythms. Still, despite the infectious sentiments and cascading choruses that amplify songs like “America,” “Glory” and “This Thing Called Life,” rock purists may recoil from the fact that the album’s overseer is none other than hip-hop producer No I.D., whose work with Kanye West, Jay-Z and Common seemingly puts him at odds with Ashcroft’s Anglophile approach. On selections such as “Beatitudes,” “Good Lovin’,” and “Royal Highness,” the tumultuous beats and orchestrated outpour seem better suited to the producer’s palette rather than a standard rock regimen. Whether this will prove a career maker or a career breaker remains to be seen, but Ashcroft’s bold gamble proves a daring move indeed. – Lee Zimmerman
Lee Zimmerman is a contributor to a variety of publications, including Blurt, M Music & Musicians, New Times, Goldmine and Amplifier
This review appears courtesy of Amplifier, 50,000 Watts of Non-Stop Indie Rock http://amplifiermagazine.blogspot.com/