Back in May, when Richard Ashcroft opened for Liam Gallagher at Boston’s Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, the former Verve frontman stood on stage, alone with everybody, armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar. He introduced himself as the first of “two legend[s]” performing that night, and made an off-the-cuff quip about how he, unlike many other musicians, has both the songs and the voice to stand up there on his own and deliver a quality show.
The man was not wrong.
His quality set mixed both Verve classics (“On Your Own,” “Sonnet,” “The Drugs Don’t Work”) and his solo material (“A Song for the Lovers,” “They Don’t Own Me”), but what was missing were a few choice bangers from his slept-on 2016 album These People — most notably “Hold” On,” “Out Of My Body,” and “This Is How It Feels.” We mention those songs specifically because they represented the moments, we feel, where Ashcroft re-found his footing, and voice, as a solo artist after a string of solo LPs that felt slightly off the mark.
This October 19, Ashcroft looks to keep his spark aflame with sixth solo effort Natural Rebel, and today he’s shared the album’s lead single, an upbeat number called “Surprised By The Joy.” Listen to it below.
In the track’s video, an energized Ashcroft wraps up some studio time by taking on London in a Triumph Spitfire before ending up on the beach. The jangly number really shows Ashcroft coming from a strong place, artistically and musically. The lyrical content suggests he’s found a nice comfort within his own skin.
“With experience comes knowledge and for me this is my strongest set of songs to date,” he says of Natural Rebel. “All my favourite sounds distilled into something that will hopefully give my fans lasting pleasure. It is for them. Music is power.”
He still has the voice. And now he’s once again got the songs.
Richard Ashcroft 2018 UK Tour Dates
October 26 – Glasgow Barrowland
October 28 – Middlesborough Town Hall
October 29 – Nottingham Rock City
October 31 – Manchester Albert Hall
November 2 – Kentish Town Forum