Returning to his solo career after Deacon Blue's short-lived late-'90s reunion, Ricky Ross shows on 2003's This Is the Life that the differences between Deacon Blue and his solo material are minimal at best. After the hushed acoustic opener, "Northern Soul" (which musically bears no resemblance to the Wigan scene at all), the album quickly moves into more familiar territory for Ross, with songs like the Prefab Sprout-style lush, jangly pop of "London Comes Alive" and the Edwyn Collins-like cod soul of "Nothing Cures That" sounding like they could have come off of any of Deacon Blue's albums. The arrangements, by producer and multi-instrumentalist Davie Scott, are '70s-style slick without sounding sterile and over-produced and, as always, the focus is entirely on Ross' smooth vocals. Deacon Blue fans will enjoy This Is the Life, but those resistant to that band's charms will find absolutely nothing new here.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason