Richard Ashcroft, ‘The United Nations of Sound’ (Razor & Tie)
Richard Ashcroft’s biggest song — the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” — is built on a looped sample and a big drumbeat, so maybe it’s not so strange that he hooked up with Common/Kanye/Jay-Z producer No I.D. to reboot his solo career. It’s a surprisingly fruitful collaboration, at least when Ashcroft isn’t sabotaging himself with dopey lyrics and wanky guitar solos. (Or inexplicably trying to channel John Lee Hooker on “How Deep Is Your Man.”) Nations actually could use more hip-hop influence: The bold “This Thing Called Love,” yet another Ashcroft paean to music itself, would really sing with a Jigga verse thrown in.