Review - Human Conditions

Artist: Richard Ashcroft

While doing time with The Verve, Richard Ashcroft lamented that the drugs didn't work anymore. With the release of "Human Conditions," his second solo effort, a transcendental awakening is the elixir of choice. The titles of nearly half of the 11 songs are religious in nature, and Jesus, Buddha, God, paranoia or some other deity-of-the-moment is often knocking on the door. He never lets you in on any actual personal dilemma, but instead weaves the surreal path of a lost soul seeking salvation. That surrealism ultimately lets him escape the personal and serves as a window into the human condition of the world at large. "If I don't know me then I don't know you," he sings in "Running Away," and later acknowledges the difficulties of doing so in "Lord I've Been Trying." Heavy organs lend to the religious imagery in tracks like "God in the Numbers," but the subtle addition of raw guitar adds a note of realism. His talent for melody is on display even though some of the tracks are overloaded with strings, but the sophomore jinx is not one of the conditions he needs to worry about.