By Jim Farber
Updated March 07, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Richard Ashcroft: Phil Poynter/Retna

You won’t find a better example of British soul than ”Check the Meaning,” the lead track off Human Conditions, the second solo album from Richard Ashcroft, ex-Verve leader. Ashcroft follows that with 10 grand and gorgeous ballads. Though elaborately orchestrated, the songs retain their intimacy, communicated in Ashcroft’s vocals, which, over the years, keep getting warmer.