March 31, 2003 12:00 PM

Richard Ashcroft (virgin)

As frontman of the Verve, Richard Ashcroft was one of the pouty-faced poster boys of brooding Brit pop in the mid-to late ’90s. His largely satisfying second solo outing finds the singer still moping on a disc that should come with a prescription for Prozac. “I’d have a breakdown, but I don’t have the time,” Ashcroft sings in his rich baritone on the bluesy “Bright Lights,” the only real rocker among the 10 songs. The rest of this tuneful collection consists of dreamy if downbeat ballads and midtempo numbers such as the single “Check the Meaning,” which, with its lush, string-drenched orchestration, has a sweeping majesty reminiscent of the Verve’s 1997 hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”

BOTTOM LINE: Somber but mostly successful

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