On-again, off-again Britpop outfit the Verve broke up, for the third time, in 2009, following their excellent comeback album Forth. Bummer. But the split is bittersweet: The band’s talented frontman Richard Ashcroft has seized the opportunity to release a genre-blending solo album under the nom de tune United Nations of Sound!
Richard Ashcroft — his collabo with hip-hop producer No I.D. (Kanye West, Jay-Z, Drake) — drops March 22, but SPIN scored an exclusive sneak peek with the premiere of “America.” Listen below!
The track mixes synths and electric guitar flourishes with a pumping hip-hop beat and swelling strings courtesy of arranger Benjamin Wright (Gladys Knight, Barry White). While the music veers into new territory for Ashcroft, his lyrics maintain a mystical world-weariness. “For all the men who ever died / Trying to keep my soul alive,” he sings in a nicotine-stained tone grittier than his most famous vocal performance in “Bittersweet Symphony.”
“We built a great atmosphere early on,” Ashcroft tells SPIN of the song. “No I.D. put a fantastic tribal loop on it. I built up a big monk-like chant with some whistles to give it some Morricone flavor. Benjamin took it to a whole new level with the strings. Some of America’s best helped make it. The voice is searching for the soul of America. I found some alive and well.”