Optimistic verve

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 February, 2006, 12:00am

Best Known as the charismatic lead singer of The Verve, Richard Ashcroft continues his musical legacy with Keys to the World, his third solo release.

Most of the songs are easy listening tracks based on mid-tempo guitar vibes and topped with retro pop elements from the 1970s.

Break the Night With Colour and Music is Power are reminiscent of The Verve's guitar ballads, but without the psychedelic charm.

Impressive title track Keys to the World is an album highlight, featuring swirling guitars, powerful female backing vocals and a multilayered musical arrangement.

Cry Til the Morning is another outstanding piece. The mood of the mournful love song is underlined by Ashcroft's sad vocals.

The album ends on a positive note with World Keeps Turning, which carries the message that 'the world keeps turning, everybody's learning'.

The CD exposes Ashcrot's optimistic side - a contrast to his moody early days in The Verve. Although a few tracks are barely memorable - such as Words Just Get in the Way and Why Do Lovers? - Ashcroft's plaintive, deep voice remains charming and unique throughout.