Though overshadowed by the hugely successful "Bittersweet Symphony," "Sonnet" might be the Verve's finest song, and a good deal of its appeal probably owes to the influence of the Beatles. Like a handful of Fab songs, "Sonnet" is an aching ballad, more simple than not, that still manages to be tuneful and, in several ways, quite measured. Its restraint is the key. It glides along with purpose and command, yet the pace is almost understated. In similar fashion and reminiscent of a Lennon vocal, Richard Ashcroft keeps his grief in check and doesn't let it unravel into weepy self-pity. He's battered, yes, and he doesn't try to hide it, but the way he expresses his pain is far more reserved than might be expected. It's a sense of sober world-weariness that comes through most vividly, and this again recalls that same Beatle. Because John is so present in Ashcroft's direct and honest vocal, it seems he was able to teach his Britpop descendant about the power of guarded emotions. And that melody? Gorgeous.
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