Richard Ashcroft: Natural Rebel review – A craggy voice on an uninteresting album

Fri, Oct 19, 2018, 05:30


Natural Rebel

Richard Ashcroft

Righteous Phonographic Association/BMG


As frontman of The Verve, Richard Ashcroft wrote some of the most lasting indie songs of the 1990s – nobody can take that away from him.

But the singer’s solo catalogue has never yielded anything like the results of his Britpop heyday. Ashcroft’s fifth LP outside the band is titled Natural Rebel, which is a bit of a strange one. There’s nothing rebellious about a set of middle-of-the-road songs built on overly familiar acoustic strums, maudlin strings and clichéd melodies.

Richard Ashcroft - Born To Be Strangers

With an unprocessed, easy-going feel to the recordings, the album’s leisurely tone could at least have led to a pleasant enough listen. But the whole presentation, from songwriting to performance, is unbearably mawkish, while Ashcroft’s craggy voice, once a great weapon, too often sounds stretched. 

Breaking away from the light tone doesn’t place him in much better territory, either. Born To Be Strangers is essentially a sloppy remake of Rolling Stones’ disco-influenced jam Miss You, while the hard-rocking closer Money Money doesn’t harness the raw power required. It adds up to an album as uninteresting as The Verve’s best songs were dazzling.