Former lead vocalist of The Verve Richard Ashcroft's latest offering will shock fans of his previous band's sound. With the help of hip-hop producer No ID (Dion Wilson), and his new band RPA & The United Nations of Sound, comes United Nations of Sound. The disc starts strongly with Are You Ready? Ashcroft holds nothing back in this anthem of synthesizers, strings and a rousing guitar solo. Although Born Again doesn't quite measure up to the opener, it is a catchy rock song with soaring strings set beneath guitar riffs. Other good tracks include the bluesy How Deep is Your Man? and the piano-driven She Brings Me the Music. It's when Ashcroft departs from the familiar that the album fails. There's an awkward shift into hip-hop tune America and This Thing Called Life, an R&B ballad where Ashcroft raps over a choir. Ashcroft's lyrics hold the album back, too. In Are You Ready?, he says, 'Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist too, I feel so ... free I don't need all of you.' That's about as illuminating as his moralising gets. United Nations of Sound has some pleasant songs but doesn't reflect Ashcroft's true talent.