RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

The Pretenders – Alone

Rating: B

These days the The Pretenders are Chrissie Hynde.  It may not have always been this way, but in 2016 she is the last man, err... woman standing for the band.

The Ohio native has chosen another famous Ohio native to produce the new album in Dan Auerbach (the Black Keys).  She has pretended that session musicians Dave Roe (bass), Russ Pahl (pedal steel), Kenny Vaughan (guitar), Leon Michels (keyboards) and Richard Swift (drums) are The Pretenders and recorded her first new album since 2008’s Break Up the Concrete

The album is good… solid… accomplished… yet it is not quite great.  I suppose at age 65, Chrissie is looking more inward at her world and the feeling of ‘alone’ comes across.  While the introspection is good for the soul, it does not always make an upbeat good-feeling record. Not that this is a downer… it just feels like its title. 

Part of the issue—and I will be damned for this I am sure—is that the production is sparse and somewhat naked feeling.  Oh I know Dan is a genius, but in some ways the life has been sucked out of some of the songs by being too alone.  I think I understand where they were going with this…just not sure I agree with it.  The spark that made The Pretenders The Pretenders is hard to find. Again, it is the feeling… the sound of being alone.  Hell, what do I know…maybe I’m overthinking this one a bit.  It is more of a nuance record more than rocker… how’s that?

On a good note, Chrissie sounds great. I love her voice.  I love her look.  She is a beautiful woman.  Her attitude is rough, but I love that about her as well.  And that mouth!  And those ideas.  And that simple yet unique guitar playing… I can’t get enough of that.  And it is all here, start to finish.

Look… this album is really good.  It is a big slab of simple riffs, simple ideas and simple chord progressions around simple lyrical themes.  Chrissie is really good at describing real life.  She gets the human condition, although I am not sure she likes it all that much.  She even admits she now spends a lot of her time alone.  “I do everything alone. I go to the cinema alone. I go to restaurants alone. I live alone. I pretty much do everything on my own. I don't mind.”

Fans who want a punk rocking, distorted chick guitarist will be disappointed in this one.  However, those who follow Hynde’s career will totally understand she is coming at us from where she is at right now… which is what she’s always been really good at doing. Perhaps she is experiencing things more in the middle of the road, yet still with that middle finger proudly displayed… but with a bit more of a smile than before… albeit a more lonely smile.

She won’t be alone on her current tour, however, as she is hitting the road with rock icon Steve Nicks… Now that promises to be one hell of a show! It will be interesting to see how ‘alone’ these songs feel in a live setting. 

At the end of the day, Alone is an interesting album…once again Chrissie has not given us what we expect but rather has chosen to make us think and feel.  For that, we can only say ‘thank you.’

Alone track listing
Alone Song
Roadie Man
Gotta Wait
Never Be Together
Let's Get Lost
Chord Lord
Blue Eyed Sky
Be The Man That You Are
One More Day
I Hate Myself
Death Is Not Enough
Holy Commotion

By Jeb “Did she just tell me to f*ck off” Wright