Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Welcome Home, Chrissie Hynde
After 35 years of living the exile's life in London, Chrissie Hynde has returned home. The irascible, 57-year-old Hynde now has an apartment in hometown Akron, Ohio and has opened up a vegan restaurant there.
As a house warming present to us all, Hynde has given us the best The Pretenders album since 1984's Learning to Crawl. The recently released Break Up The Concrete finds Hynde blasting out rockabilly-tinged rockers and mournful pedal steel weepers.
With Eric Heywood on pedal steel on nearly every song, you can hear more than a passing resemblance to Lucinda Williams. However, with drumming legend Jim Keltner providing the bottom, Hynde and her new collection of Pretenders reach a level of songwriting and musicianship thought lost to her days on vinyl.
The first single and lead song on the album, "Boots of Chinese Plastic," Hynde finds that elusive Pretenders vibe of old. Always a mystical person, Hynde starts the song with the Buddhist phrase of "nam yo ho ren gay kyo." Hynde has explained that the phrase means "every drop that runs through the vein always makes back to the heart again."
Hynde has combined this spiritualization with the more familiar lament regarding bad and lost relationships - a theme that carries through the album. For all those who tend to fall for the wrong person, Hynde has been there and sings, "Illusion fills my head like an empty can, I spent a million lifetimes loving the same man."
Along with "Chinese Plastic," The Pretenders rock on through bluesy burners "Rosalee" and the title track, which features a solid and welcome Bo Diddley beat. Another particular favorite is the spacey, almost woozy, "Almost Perfect."
With this new album, Hynde reclaims her rightful position atop rock's pantheon. She's the one leaning against a column, smoking a hand-rolled cigarette. The coolest one in the room.
Welcome Home, Chrissie. We are so glad your back.