- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Pretenders, “Alone” (BMG)

Chrissie Hynde reverts to her Pretenders moniker on “Alone,” a soulful production helmed by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and starring her tough-as-nails vulnerability.

Hynde’s wonderful voice, one of rock’s best, can weaken knees even by reading a phone book. While the album sports all kinds of modern-retro sounds, her vocals propel the fast ones and elevate the ballads with her usual empathy and authority.

Opening with the declarative title track, which has a piano riff with shades of Allen Toussaint’s “Fortune Teller,” Hynde immediately clears the room - “I’m at my best, I’m where I belong, alone.” That could bear bad tidings for what is supposed to be the band’s first effort since the dynamic “Break Up the Concrete” in 2008, but she doesn’t sound at all isolated.

Instead she gets feistily involved in fellow Akron, Ohio, native Auerbach’s quirky production, which echoes a long list of rock and R&B; idols, from Doug Sahm’s Tex-Mex organ to T. Rex and even Duane “Twangy Guitar” Eddy himself on “Never Be Together.”

“Roadie Man” is another moaning complaint by the long-suffering wife from “Watching the Clothes” and first single “Holy Commotion” has some jungle drums and whirling sounds of steel pans. “Chord Lord” is probably closest to Pretenders from 30-odd years ago, while “I Hate Myself” would suit Lou Reed or a certain controversial Nobel Prize winner.

There may not be towering classics on “Alone,” but it’s a rewarding listen if you accept - and you’ll feel better if you do - that these are not your parents’ Pretenders or even those from a few years ago. But, oh, that Hynde vibrato!

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide