Rolling Stone - 3/6/03, p.683 stars out of 5
- "...Ashcroft's mastery of balladry makes 'Buy It in Bottles' his best since the Verve's 'Lucky Man'..."
Spin - 3/03, p.1188 out of 10
- "...Stunning pop for pale after-party people..."
Entertainment Weekly - 3/7/03, p.73
"...Though elaborately orchestrated, the songs retain their intimacy, communicated in Ashcroft's vocals, which, over the years, keep getting warmer..." - Rating: A
Uncut - 11/02, p.1143 stars out of 5
- "...The orchestration is fantastic...there is nobody in British pop who does those string-laden crescendos more convincingly than Ashcroft and his arranger Will Malone..."
CMJ - 12/02/02, p.7
"...Ashcroft has gradually made the shift from staring inward to looking outward, as his songs have taken on an increasingly cosmic scope..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 11/02, p.102
"...Charms with its hungry troubadour's idealism."
Personnel: Richard Ashcroft (vocals, guitar, piano, bass); Brian Wilson (vocals); Jim Hunt (flute, saxophone); Chuck Leavell (piano, Hammond B-3 organ); Matt Clifford (Wurlitzer piano); Kate Radley (keyboards); Martin Campbell (bass); Pete Salisbury (drums); Talvin Singh (tablas); Craig Wagstaff (percussion); Richard Robson, Steve Sidelnyk (programming); Talvin Singh (turntables); Brian Wilson (background vocals).
Recorded at Metropolis, Olympic, and Astoria Studios, London, England and at Real World Studios, Bath, England.
Personnel: Richard Ashcroft (vocals, guitar, piano, Wurlitzer organ, keyboards, percussion); The London Session Orchestra (strings); Jim Hunt (flute, saxophone); Chuck Leavell (piano); Matt Clifford (Wurlitzer organ); Kate Radley (keyboards); Peter Salisbury (drums); Talvin Singh (tabla); Steve Sidelnyk (percussion, programming, drum programming); Craig Wagstaff (percussion); Richard Robson (programming); Brian Wilson (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Christopher Marc Potter .
Recording information: Astoria Studios, London, England; Metropolis; Olympic; Real World Studios, Bath, Somerset, England.
Illustrator: Jos‚ Luis Cort‚s .
Photographers: Marc Marot; Nadav Kander.
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. ~ MacKenzie Wilson