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Richard Ashcroft
When we first heard Richard Ashcroft as the frontman for The Verve, we knew he was going to be a star. Seven years after The Verve’s break-up Ashcroft is still one of Britain’s biggest selling acts.

His third solo album, Keys To The World, has just been released and Ashcroft is riding high on the wave of success of his first single Break The Night With Colour. “I wrote it on a harpsichord and it was probably the first thing I recorded for the album, about three years ago,” Ashcroft says. “This song is about breaking through depression and darkness and finding light. It represents a melancholy or a depression and that there is hope. I personally have broken through and the song’s there as a reminder of that.”

While the themes of the song might make you shy away, Ashcroft pulls it off with an ease that has rightly earned him a place among one of the best musicians in the world. His rasping voice reflects a simple truth ~ Richard Ashcroft doesn’t need to try too hard to draw people to listen to him; his music does it for itself.

Solo Career
The 10-track album is charting high in the UK and has reached #2 less than a month after its release. Keys To The World is about more than just music ~ it’s about the human spirit. “A lot of the album’s about trying to come to some truth in an age where it doesn’t exist any more,” Ashcroft says, “so in a sense there’s a hopelessness there but in a sense there’s hope because we’ll keep trying, we’ll keep pushing.” Working with producer Chris Potter (who has produced his previous albums as well), Ashcroft had a bank of songs to choose from for this album. “It became very difficult at the end because I had quite a few songs and hopefully I’ll be able to get some of those tunes out,” Ashcroft says, “but ultimately the strong ones really did shine through in the end and melody sort of stole it. I just wanted to make a few tunes that were memorable purely because the melody lodged in your head.”

This is something Ashcroft does well. His first solo single Song For The Lovers has an infectious harmony of orchestra that, coupled with Ashcroft’s lyrics, propelled the track to #3 on the UK Singles Chart. Released just a year after The Verve’s demise, the single cemented Ashcroft’s status as a phenomenal performer even without the backing of The Verve. The strength of this single sent his debut album Alone With Everybody to the top of the UK charts. Ashcroft was plagued by drug abuse rumours when he cancelled a sold-out tour across the US, but he quickly made amends by rescheduling all 10 days of the tour. He followed it up with 2002’s Human Conditions, which entered the top 5 in the UK Albums Chart, but was not released in the US.

Songwriting Success
Throughout his career, Ashcroft has penned one hit song after another. But it’s not just #1 singles or awards that Ashcroft finds gratifying ~ creating a melody is what drives him. “I’m not driven by fame or success,” Ashcroft says. “I’m quite a shy, introverted person and I could easily melt away into the background. But I am driven to write tunes. Creativity for me is almost like therapy.” In this case, one man’s therapy can be another man’s…well, therapy. “It’s a cliché but one person changed by one song is incredible,” Ashcroft says. “I don’t write thinking about the listener, but I’ve always thought about the trip I’m going to take them on.”

You can read the rest of our feature on Richard Ashcroft in the February 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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