Album Review: Richard Ashcroft – 'Natural Rebel'

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After the success of his 2016 release These People, Richard Ashcroft has just released his fifth solo album, Natural Rebel. 

Released on his own label RPA, the record starts a new chapter in Ashcroft’s solo career. Ten new songs see Ashcroft opening up in his lyrics and showing a certain sense of vulnerability, all while performing with a whole new level of confidence. 

The Verve front man took risks on his last album, he shaved his hair, wore sequin jackets and added a level of upbeat pop to his songs. Similarities are still there, but unlike his last album, Natural Rebel has been stripped back yet another layer. It still feels raw and new, but oh so ready. Natural Rebel isn’t an album were risks were taken, it’s more a case of Ashcroft finding his craft and perfecting it with real attention to detail.

Talking about Natural Rebel, Richard Ashcroft said “With experience comes knowledge and for me this is my strongest set of songs to date. All my favourite sounds distilled into something that will hopefully give my fans lasting pleasure. It is for them. Music is power.”

Opening track ‘All My Dreams’ sets the bar on what to expect from the rest of the nine songs. Although getting livelier towards the end of the album, stand out tracks throughout include latest single ‘Surprised By The Joy’, ‘We All Bleed’ and ‘Money Money’. 

Although the lyrics throughout the album might not be mind-blowing, the passion heard in Ashcroft’s vocals is evident. His distinctive northern voice appears to be stronger than ever, hitting high notes and singing with real passion.

Richard Ashcroft is at the point of his career where he doesn’t need to gain new fans or prove anything to anyone. He has a strong following, being close friends with Liam Gallagher has probably helped in that sense. He has supported LG at some key headline shows this summer, which saw Ashcroft performing The Verve songs amongst new and old solo tracks. 

In many ways, this is a safe album, but that still doesn’t stop it from being up there with some of his best solo material. It’ll sure be a fan pleaser.

Announcing two tours in support of the new album, Richard Ashcroft is playing some of the largest venues he’s played in years. However, this winter don’t miss him perform in some more intimate venues across the country. 

Words by Abbie Jennings

Friday October 26th – Glasgow Barrowlands

Sunday October 28th – Middlesborough Town Hall

Monday October 29th – Nottingham Rock City

Wednesday October 31st Manchester Albert Hall

Friday November 2nd – Kentish Town Forum