Picks and Pans Review: Us
Gabriel's first album since 1986 is a more confessional and personal journey than the celebrated and celebratory So. Many of the songs stem from the breakup of Gabriel's nearly 20-year marriage to Jill Moore and his subsequent five-year relationship with Rosanna Arquette, which also ended. The rich, highly textured album features a large cast of international musicians, including a Russian choral group, a Sufi flute player, African drummers and, on two songs, Sinéad O'Connor. Gabriel subtly folds their contributions into his densely layered fusion of world-beat and thinking-man's pop.
The songs are introspective, delving into their creator's darker self, what he calls "the bastard" linking within: "Something in me, dark and sticky/ All the time it's getting strong/ No way of dealing with this feeling/ Can't go on like this too long." Gabriel has said that the aim of his work is "communicating relief from psychic pain." What comes across in Us is anger, pain and, finally, self-knowledge rather than self-pity. This well-conceived and carefully crafted album is not all me and rumination. Such potent singles as "Come Talk to Me" and "Digging in the Dirt" (aided by a disturbing video) should drive it up the charts. (Geffen)