Richard Ashcroft – Human Conditions (2002)

FrontCover1Human Conditions is the second album by English singer-songwriter, Richard Ashcroft. It was released on Hut Records in 2002.

Human Conditions received mixed reviews. Review aggregating website Metacritic reports a normalised score of 61% based on 15 reviews. Entertainment Weekly awarded the album an “A”. Some of the negative reviews, included Nick Southall of Stylus, who remarked that “Ashcroft obviously sees himself as some kind of incisive commentator with a greater depth of understanding of the human condition than those around him. This record reveals with alarming clarity that he is actually a poor songwriter, dire lyricist, and arrogant buffoon all at the same time.” Andrew Lynch of gave the album two stars out of five, calling it “in the final analysis, quite unbelievably boring.” Rowan Shaeffer of Counterculture gave it three stars out of five and praised aspects of the album, though still feeling that “for the most part Richard Ashcroft seems be going through the motions; and while he’s produced a good album, it’s an ultimately unfulfilling listen.”

In 2003, when asked about the naysayers to the album, Ashcroft responded: “If I had put on fifteen stone and Kate had left me and I’d almost [overdosed] on smack, then this record would have been received very well”. In a 2006 interview with The Sun, Ashcroft said of the criticism: “I wouldn’t say I was massively affected. I didn’t feel the paranoia I felt when The Verve broke up.” (by wikipedia)


Richard Ashcroft is a deeply inquisitive man, probably too much for his own good. His regimen of frequently questioning God and overanalyzing the theories of love naturally work for him, so the design of Human Conditions isn’t any different from what he’s done before. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. Human Conditions is, in a literal sense, Ashcroft’s sonic bible of beautifully crafted melodies and lyrical mysticism. The warm, honeyed tones of a hushing brass section and string arrangements set the mood on album-opener “Check the Meaning.” A battle of search and fight is realized almost immediately. God is female and Ashcroft’s lyrical character struggles with trust. Sweeping acoustic guitars drive the lilting paranoia of “Buy It in Bottles” and “God in the Numbers,” but the bluesy feel of “Bright Lights” is much more gritty. Ashcroft might be a bit preoccupied with finding a good life, but who isn’t? He’s playful in presentation and actually pretty sweet when it comes to delivering a pop hook. “Nature Is the Law,” which features harmonies from Beach Boy Brian Wilson, is a testament of that. Whereas Alone With Everybody was lush in emotion but musically over-produced, Human Conditions stays within the boundaries. It’s a decent second album and longtime Verve enthusiasts should leave it at that. (by MacKenzie Wilson)


Alternate frontcover

Richard Ashcroft (vocals, guitar, percussion, bass, Piano, keyboards)
Martyn Campbell (bass)
Matt Clifford (wurlitzer)
Jim Hunt (flute, saxophone)
Chuck Leavell (keyboards)
Kate Radley (keyboards)
Richard Robson (programming)
Peter Salisbury (drums)
Steve Sidelnyk (drum programming)
Talvin Singh (percussion)
Craig Wagstaff (percussion)
Brian Wilson (background vocals)
The London Session Orchestra conducted by Will Malone
London Community Gospel Choir conducted by Brian Wilson


01. Check The Meaning 8.04
02. Buy It In Bottles 4.39
03. Bright Lights 5.15
04. Paradise 5.37
05. God In The Numbers 6.58
06. Science Of Silence 4.15
07. Man On A Mission 5.29
08. Running Away 4.16
09. Lord I’ve Been Trying 5.23
10. Nature Is The Law 4.55

All songs written by Richard Ashcroft