THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE Chrissie Hynde will never forget how to rock.
The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde may not be all over the radio like she was in the ’80s, and her albums may not sell more than the minimum amount necessary to keep her ticket sales afloat, but she has that rare ability to make any song rock.
The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who produces the band’s first album since 2008, has added vintage rockabilly and soul touches to her formula, but the centerpiece remains Hynde’s deep and mysterious voice and a stomping spirit that opens with a cymbal crash on the welcome introvert’s anthem “Alone Song” and peaks with a heartfelt “woo-whee!” in “Gotta Wait.”
Hynde can make do with any backup band, but the rock ’n’ roll competence of Nashville studio hands such as guitarist Kenny Vaughan and drummer Richard Swift boosts her confidence. (Not to mention ’60s rockabilly guitar hero Duane Eddy, who provides a twisty solo in “Never Be Together.”)
“Roadie Man,” a love song, showcases Hynde’s underrated vocal phrasing and emotional range. Sometimes Auerbach overplays his style, especially in the lengthy, fuzzy intro to “Holy Commotion,” but Hynde is a pro, slipping easily into the song’s groove. With luck, she isn’t talking about herself on “I Hate Myself” (“ . . . and I know that you do too”) and more albums like this are on the way.