Maybe I wasnâ€™t listening to The Verve hard enough, but after â€œBittersweet Symphonyâ€ came, went, and wound its way through the legal system, I wouldnâ€™t have expected Richard Ashcroft to last for more than one solo album, let alone several â€” to say nothing of something as full of glorious, ragged swagger as Keys to the World.
Thereâ€™s nothing new here, naturally; Ashcroft is a traditionalist in true Stonesian fashion (something that, Iâ€™m happy to say, not even a legal verdict can change). But songs like â€œWhy Not Nothing?â€ (download) and â€œSimple Songâ€ (download) prove that thereâ€™s still some juice left between the grooves of rockâ€™s black vinyl heart.
A perfect blend of â€˜66 and â€˜06, built out of phlegm and whiskey and razor blades and every other ingredient in the rock & roll cookbook, Keys is a gem. A small gem, and one that Iâ€™d wager probably wonâ€™t make it to many year-end Best Of lists, but a gem nonetheless.