Keys to the World [Bonus DVD]

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Richard Ashcroft deserves kudos for his, um, balls. But then again, a man who claims his last recording, 2002's Human Conditions, was the artistic equal of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On is tough to like, too. While many thought he had slunk into the murky depths after the critical and commercial drubbing of Human Conditions, Ashcroft was simply pondering what happened and deciding it was everybody else's fault the record tanked. Three and a half years later, Verve's former frontman is back with a record not terribly different, though certainly more pastoral and perhaps more middle of the road. Those who fell in love with 2000's Alone with Everybody will have a tougher time ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Richard Ashcroft deserves kudos for his, um, balls. But then again, a man who claims his last recording, 2002's Human Conditions, was the artistic equal of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On is tough to like, too. While many thought he had slunk into the murky depths after the critical and commercial drubbing of Human Conditions, Ashcroft was simply pondering what happened and deciding it was everybody else's fault the record tanked. Three and a half years later, Verve's former frontman is back with a record not terribly different, though certainly more pastoral and perhaps more middle of the road. Those who fell in love with 2000's Alone with Everybody will have a tougher time here just as they did with Human Conditions. But really, it's not the record's fault. Ashcroft uses a burping horn section and a few layers of raw, rusty electrics on "Why Not Nothing," the opener on Keys to the World, a nefarious anti-religion rant. His snarling vocal riding down inside the rock & roll cacophony is such a breath of fresh air; it's a true departure from his solo work thus far. The messed up fuzz-tone guitar break is glorious. Ashcroft can strut and swagger with the best of them At least here, Ashcroft reveals he can spit out the rage with the best of rock's big time frontmen Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, et al.. "Music Is Power," reveals the true surprise. It's a Northern soul workout, with -- are you ready? Samples! -- from Curtis Mayfield no less. Actually it's from Walter Jackson's "It's All Over," by Walter Jackson; produced and written by Mayfield. Yep, the guy who ripped off and got raked by Jagger and Keith Richards' lawyers for the royalties to "Bittersweet Symphony" has dipped his foot into the digital ocean once more. It's a cool groove, and he rides it well, though there is a bit too much sonic separation between the singer and the musicians the set was produced by Ashcroft and longtime mate Chris Potter -- who's worked with the Rolling Stones. "Break the Night with Colour" is full of strings, a concert grand piano, some synths including treated backing chorus, and a patch of guitars to make it a beautifully layered soft rock tune. Nothing "indie" or alternative here, folks, except perhaps his disconsolate lyrics. It's a fine comeback single, but either of the aforementioned tracks would have fared better in luring punters to the album. Other standouts on this well -- if leisurely paced slab -- include "Words Just Get in the Way," with a set of lyrics that are near-narrative read: not mind-bogglingly nonsensical for a change. It's a sleepy folk-rock tune with its lonely piano and vocal intro before the muted guitars enter. The strings come in on that second verse and one could close their eyes and picture hearing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" as a bona fide rock song, or early-'70s Neil Diamond being a Brit. The programming blitz on the title track breaks the interior mood a bit and rocks it up. But the sampling is rather dreadful and boring. The rest of the disc simply follows a formula, though it's a pleasant one. Ashcroft introduces everything else here with skeletally placed guitars, he pours on the strings and keeps the tempo on slow, slower, and slowest, until the final track, "World Keeps Turning," is slick, mid-tempo pop
ock. There's nothing wrong with that; it's just a curious way to send a record off. It's got a fine hook, a cool guitar part in the mix, and Ashcroft's vocal is back to being the British Bob Dylan. What we learn from Keys to the World is that after nearly four years, Ashcroft, despite his own proclamations to greatness, is at the place where he delivers almost entirely what you'd expect -- even if its execution is more attractive. [This special edition comes with a DVD. It features a longish interview with our man of the hour; live videos of the single and "Why Not Nothing," and the official video of the single.]
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/21/2006
  • Label: Virgin Records Us
  • UPC: 094635452327
  • Catalog Number: 54523

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Why Not Nothing? (4:09)
  2. 2 Music Is Power (3:58)
  3. 3 Break the Night with Colour (3:56)
  4. 4 Words Just Get in the Way (4:53)
  5. 5 Keys to the World (4:42)
  6. 6 Sweet Brother Malcolm (4:51)
  7. 7 Cry Til the Morning (5:04)
  8. 8 Why Do Lovers? (4:45)
  9. 9 Simple Song (4:05)
  10. 10 World Keeps Turning (3:54)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Keys to the World
  2. 2 Break the Night with Colour
  3. 3 Why Not Nothing?
  4. 4 Words Just Get in the Way
  5. 5 Break the Night with Colour
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Richard Ashcroft Primary Artist, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Matthew Ward Track Performer
Terry Britten Bass, Guitar, Mandolin
Gerry Conway Drums
Nick Cooper Track Performer
John Giblin Bass
Nick Holland Track Performer
Peter Salisbury Drums
Steve Sidelnyk Drums
Arnie Somogyi Bass
Fenella Barton Track Performer
Chris West Acoustic Guitar
Bruce White Electric Viola
Cathy Giles Track Performer
David Juritz Track Performer
Edward Vanderspar Track Performer
Martin Slattery Piano
Jim Hunt Flute, Saxophone
Jonathan Tunnell Track Performer
Deborah Widdup Track Performer
London Metropolitan Orchestra Track Performer
Yvonne John Lewis Vocals
Helen Hathorn Track Performer
Richard George Track Performer
Ben Nabarro Track Performer
Martyn Campbell Bass
Rachel Ann Roberts Track Performer
Laura Melhuish Track Performer
Chris Parkes French Horn
Chris Fish Track Performer
Martin Burgess Track Performer
Andrew Haverson Track Performer
Chris Vanderspar Track Performer
Technical Credits
Richard Ashcroft Composer, Producer
Tony Cousins Mastering
Kris Weston Programming
Chris West Producer, Engineer
Christopher Marc Potter Producer, Engineer
Julian Kershaw String Arrangements
Sonny Ashcroft Paintings
Richard Roson Programming
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