Pretenders: Alone review – Chrissie Hynde still a magnificent one-off

(EES)

What was originally intended as a Chrissie Hynde solo album finally appears, packaged as a Pretenders release, with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach aboard as producer. A cadre of Auerbach’s country and blues pals – including Duane Eddy, contributor of autumnal twang to the indigo-tinted love song Never Be Together – create a 50s-style rootsiness that suits Hynde very well. Forever parrying toughness and profound vulnerability, she has found empathy in Auerbach’s retro torch arrangements. The old saw about age being nothing but a number finds its true expression here: at 65, she’s ferociously autonomous, extolling singlehood with the title track’s primitive rockabilly strut (“Nobody tells me I can’t / Nobody to say ‘You’re doing it wrong’”). Reserving the right to change her mind, she is then infused with new-relationship excitement on the cascading ballad Let’s Get Lost, while I Hate Myself not only revels in drawling self-loathing (“I hate these perversions of the heart”) but makes it sound appealing. Always a one-off, Hynde is magnificent here – unapologetic and deferring to no one.

Contributor

Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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