Who said that love songs are the most ridiculous thing these days, only designated for “artists” like Celine Dion or Mariah Carey? Who said that art (and especially music, which is our matter here) is supposed to be dark, angry, and negative, because happiness has fallen into banality?
OK, that is true; a lot of people have banalized love, and many have decided that, in the modern world, happiness is a difficult thing to find; and that this is such a normal state that art has to reflect something beyond that. As far as this reviewer is concerned, there are also artists who banalize their anger and depression (do Korn, Bush, or Limp Bizkit ring a bell?). And such real artists like Peter Gabriel (“My In your Eyes”), REM (“Shiny Happy People”), or The Cure (“Lovesong”), have made examples about how to praise love and happiness without being shallow. And notice that they did not need to be twisted.
So, what does ex-Verve Richard Ashcroft have to do with this matter? His first solo release, “Alone with Everybody,” falls into this latter category. This is the record of a man whom love rescued, who is in love with his wife, who is excited with the birth of his new son; in short, a man who thanks life for all the presents it has given to him. All this new happiness and fulfillment are expresed in this beautiful CD. But Ashcroft does not go with cliches to express it. Instead, the reflective tone of “Alone with Everybody” gives it a lot of hooks.
This record has nothing new musically, but it does not pretend to. However, this reviewer considers this record a masterpiece because of the emotional appeal it has. Few records can be this personal, yet talk about happiness with such high quality. Of course, a lot of it is reminiscent of The Verve (and particularly of “Urban Hymns”), but this is normal for someone who split with his band relatively recently. So I do not think it would be fair to critizice Ashcroft for this. This is just the begining.
Looking for high quality love songs? This is a good record for doing that, especially in a time when deep and reflective lovesongs are so hard to find.
Written by Pekky Marquez.