Gabriel's first album since 1986 is a more confessional and personal journey than the celebrated "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, Sinead O'Connor. Gabriel subtly folds their contributions into this densly 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" lurking 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-concieved and carefully crafted album is not all rue and rumination. Such potent singles as 'Come Talk To Me' and 'Digging In The Dirt' (aided by a disturbing video) should drive up the charts.
--- Rob Spillman