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on 4 January 2006
Richard Ashcroft is not the first frontman to become a victim of his own success. And he probably won't be the last. His debut album ‘Alone With Everybody’ shot straight to number one, sold over a million copies & produced a top 5 single. While most would consider this a success, it met a lukewarm response from well-respected journalists the world over & was dubbed an underachievement.
It also seemed to cement what direction he was going with both his songs & sound. His follow-up ‘Human Conditions’ gained a more hostile response, with some denouncing it as a man so embroiled in his ego that he had completely lost whatever magic spark he had left. (for anyone who doesn’t know, Ashcroft was chief songwriter on the 7 million selling Urban Hymns LP that produced hits ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ & ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’).
Loyal fans will say his talent of writing a good tune never deserted him on both previous LPs, but the good news is on ‘Keys to the World’ the rest will take notice once again.
Simply put, it’s his finest set of songs since Urban Hymns. At 44 minutes long and containing 10 tracks, it’s back to basics for Britain’s finest troubadour.
The opening tracks ‘Why Not Nothing’& ‘Music is Power’ suggest a rejuvenation not seen before on his previous efforts, with the former foot-stomper easily his finest rock n roll moment post Verve. ‘Music is Power’ samples a track produced by Curtis Mayfield with Richard asking you to ‘Submit to the sound.’ Trust me, you will. White-boy soul has never sounded this good.
Lyrically the bar has been raised across most of the tunes too; his voice has matured into a rasp infused combination of Gallagher/Presley & there can be no doubt now he holds the finest voice of the long string of charismatic frontmen the UK has produced. Fine examples of this are on ‘Cry ‘til the Morning’ & the timeless beauty ‘Sweet Brother Malcolm.’
A true master of the ballad, Ashcroft exceeds even his own standards with ‘Words Just Get In The Way’ & the beautiful but sad lament ‘Why Do Lovers’. The usual philosophical meanderings are apparent throughout, but never have the songs been so punchy as title track ‘Keys to the World’ & focused as first single ‘Break the Night With Colour’. An instant classic, it exhumes Richard’s persona of man that no matter what he has on his plate, he’s discontented, insecure & suffering a state of ennui that if it helps produce music like this, we should all be thankful for it.
Finally, the man from ‘that’ video has a set of songs that can match anything from ‘that’ band. And the music world is a better place because of it. Welcome back Captain.
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on 6 January 2006
I am one of these Ashcroft fans that takes issue with those who say his post Verve material is not very good. I agree that Alone With Everybody was a little polished and probably suffered for the fact that Ashcroft seemed a bit too happy when he wrote it, but I thought that Human Conditions was a fantastic example of great songwriting.
What "Keys to the World" has over the first two, however, is a bit of what was missing. On "Urban Hymns" the ballads were interspersed with rousing numbers "Rolling People" and "Come On". Well those kind of tracks make their return here, with opener "Why not Nothing" as rock n roll as Ashcroft has ever sounded, and the superb title track Keys to The World, which samples a soul singer strangely enough!?! But these songs make all the difference, put in amongst more fine ballads, especially "Sweet Brother Malcolm", that make this Ashcrofts strongest effort since the Verve, and should be the Album we've all hoped he would make to put him back on top of the tree
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on 2 August 2015
Compared to The Verve this album is very dull.
However its probably the most lively collection of songs since the Urban Hymns record, and it does sound like that album slightly too.

At the time in 2006 I didn't think a whole lot about this record, now what do I think?
Its great actually...its hard to compare Richard Ashcrofts solo albums up to this one, they are all different, they also are all similar in a non experimental way.

Alone with Everybody is probably his best because it mixes songs with experiments but since then its all been very straight forward rock n roll type songs.

Its a good side to Richard A that is overlooked this record, and there are slightly new sounds from influences here.

But at the end of the day, nothing beats The Verve and its original members from 93-95 and that is the band Richard Ashcroft belongs in and that is the real truth.
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on 26 January 2006
Having followed Richard Ashcroft since the beginning of his solo career, which now spans 3 albums, i was always expecting something alittle different from what else is on offer in todays music industry.
refreshing is a good superlative for this album. a good old typical singer/song writer record that doesnt feel quite as heavy as his other two offerings. a good mix of energetic, soulful, contemplating tunes.
overall its an album of progression, you get the feeling there is alot more to be offered from this rare breed of artist. as for this version with bonus DVD, that in itself is maybe for the 'fan' mostly. the gem being an interview with richard where he discusses the topics of each song, its always interesting hearing the artists take on songs to discover their true meanings. the live performances are top notch and the first single's video is just a nice addition.
Stand out tracks would be 'Music is Power', 'Break the Night with Colour', 'Keys to the World' and maybe my favourite... 'Why Do Lovers?' as richard says in his interview its a great song to stick on at 2am in the morning!
9/10, go on treat yourself!
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on 27 January 2006
On the surface, 'Keys to the World' is not a groundbreaking or original album. As many critics have pointed out, his lyrics are cliched and some of his songs come across as simple and shallow.
However, repeated listenings reveal a true masterpiece... the cliches become profound and the simple songs reveal themselves to be quite complex and meaningful (even 'Simple Song' itself!) It's difficult for me to rate 'Keys to the World' because it feels almost as if it can't be rated.
Richard says (in the accompanying DVD) that the album is just another part of a journey that he wants people to take with him... and once you're on that journey, the music takes on a whole new meaning. As Richard himself puts it: "Music is power/Let it flow through your mind".
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 April 2015
In my opinion, album number three, 2006's 'Keys to the World' is Verve singer Richard Ashcroft's best solo offering. Unlike his debut, it has a very different sound to that of the Verve. This album establishes Richard with his own style away from the band, hardly an original or ground-breaking one admittedly, but this is a very playable indie-rock record (with a hint of soul thrown in), filled with mature and singable songs (which we have always associated with the man anyway), of which there is very little filler to be found amongst the great stuff.

For me, it doesn't get much better than the single 'Break the Night With Colour', which is one of his biggest hits, and a perfect song really, followed by the more cheerful 'World Keeps Turning', and the uplifting 'Music is Power'. I really do rate this album highly, it's just great music that is to easy-to-listen to anytime, and further proof (as if it were needed) of Richard Ashcroft's song writing talents and one very addictive voice.
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on 20 June 2015
I bought this on the strength of the first two Ashcroft albums and the Verve's catalogue, but I was very disappointed with this album. It's laid back and uninspired with little in the way of the sort of energy and attitude I want to hear from Richard Ashcroft. I bought Human Conditions at the same time and although this is also quite laid back and musically mellow, I found much more to like about it.
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on 23 January 2006
I'm a lucky man - i've spoken to Mr Ashcroft on a number of occassions over the last 3 years of his hiatus and on each occassion he proclaimed he was working hard to get the very best album he could get out. As time went on I started to wonder whether it was possible to get something that's taken 3 years to perfect to sound as mindblowing as he was proclaiming...
Keys To The World answers all my questions and doubts with a big ear-drum-smashing belt of positivity. There's a bit of everything here for the hardcore Verve fan to the Ashcroft lovers. The whole album wreaks of songwriting genius and reaffirms Richard Ashcroft as a rock legend.
Highlists of the album are definately summed up in the title track, Keys To The World, Sweet Brother Malcolm and Why Do Lovers - however take nothing away from any of the other songs - they are all par excellance!
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on 26 June 2006
Break The Night With Colour is a fantastic piece of work which leaves everything else on this CD trailing in its wake. Ashcroft's affected vocal style is a further nuisance. Can just about face listening to Cry Til The Morning and World Keeps Turning again, but the rest would be better moulded into an ashtray. Recommendation: buy the single.
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on 30 March 2006
I'm shocked by the bad reviews i've read on this album. I can only assume that the reviewers are blind SClub fans that have bought the wrong album.
THIS ALBUM IS GREAT! It has all the quality of Richard's previous work and i really cant recommend it enough.
If you liked Alone With Everybody &/or Human Conditions you simply have to buy this album. This really is Ashcroft at his very best. *****
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