Release Date: Oct 21, 2016
Record label: BMG Rights Management
Over the power riff and saloon-bar piano of the title-track opener, Chrissie Hynde adopts a Lou Reed-like strut declaring: “Nobody tells me I can’t, nobody tells me I shan’t; nobody to say you’re doing it wrong, I’m at my best and where I belong, alone. ” And she is effectively alone on this release; despite reviving The Pretenders banner for the first time in eight years, this is basically another solo outing, with Black Key Dan Auerbach teasing out a magnificent sound as her chief collaborator, flanked by a collection of high-calibre sessioneers. She has upped the ante considerably since the sole release under her own name in 2014.
Chrissie Hynde sneers "I like being alone" on the title track and opening song on Alone, the first Pretenders album since 2006's Break Up the Concrete. That much is true. She may have revived the Pretenders name for Alone, the follow-up to her belated 2014 solo debut, Stockholm, but, just like in 2006, Martin Chambers isn't in the studio. Instead, Hynde is collaborating with Black Key Dan Auerbach, who brings in half of his side project the Arcs to help him play the instruments on Alone.
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.
Don’t let the name fool you: Chrissie Hynde is The Pretenders. Two of the band’s four original members, lead guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon, have passed, while drummer Martin Chambers has been in and out of the group for years. But Hynde has never strained under the weight of keeping the Pretenders moving and active. If the title of Alone, Hynde’s first Pretenders effort since 2008, is to be believed, she actually prefers the space and freedom that comes with running her own ship.
It’s hard not to imagine Alone as a self-reverential nod at Chrissie Hynde’s solo debut album Stockholm, released in mid-2014. A single cymbal clang opens the Pretenders tenth studio album, Alone, and perfectly sets up the solo confidence of Hynde as the band instead, and her renewed collaboration with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and the Arcs. Auerbach’s presence is strong, but welcome and his role as producer and collaborator focuses on bringing Hynde’s vocals to the front while providing impassioned and qualifying backing music for her lyrics.
Chrissie Hynde launched the Pretenders' 1980 debut by telling some hot thing to "fuck off." She reprises the sentiment on the band's 10th studio LP, with "Alone," a cocky celebration of rolling solo. At 65, she's still mouthing off over brass-knuckled rock & roll, flexing command and carnality with no apology. Producer Dan Auerbach embellishes her genre fetishes: "Holy Commotion" quotes the Ronettes; twang-guitar hero Duane Eddy turns up on "Never Be Together." And befitting a memoirist (see last year's Reckless), her introspect is unsparing.
Chrissie Hynde reveals her rootsy Americana side with help from some Nashville friends Eight years after the last Pretenders album, Christine Ellen Hynde has reactivated her dormant band name as a 65th birthday present to herself. Originally intended as a sequel to Stockholm, her 2014 solo debut, Alone evolved into a Pretenders project after Hynde began working with fellow Akron, Ohio native Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys in his Nashville studio. ADVERTISINGinRead invented by Teads Of course, the line between Hynde’s solo and band albums is fuzzy, since she is the founder and sole permanent member of the Pretenders.
The title of the first Pretenders album since 2008 is something of a misleading one. Chrissie Hynde is, in effect, the sole surviving member of the iconic post-punk band, following the deaths of founder members James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon (drummer Martin Chambers is still touring with Hynde, but isn’t listed in the credits for this album). Yet she’s not alone for their 10th studio album, having teamed up with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys who produces and plays on the record.
Chrissie Hynde proved to her fellow Ohioans that you could get out of Akron by playing music. Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys, the other famous band from Akron) took notes. Alone finds Hynde without her erstwhile bandmates, but in gnarly and sympathetic company as Auerbach, cronies and luminaries such as Duane Eddy add crunch, swing and the sound of departing motorbikes to Hynde’s songcraft.
Midway through listening to Alone, the tenth studio album from The Pretenders, I was struck by a realisation: Holy shit, The Pretenders did ‘Back on the Chain Gang’! I mean, obviously I knew this. It’s one of my favourite songs and after many years I’ve just now figured out how to play it on the guitar. That riff is gorgeous, Chrissie Hynde’s broken-yet-smouldering vocal is perfect and the lyrics – “Like a break in the battle, that was your part in the wretched life of a lonely heart” – echo the achingly pretty music perfectly.
Judging by the title of this album and the great lyrics of the title song (which celebrate a life of solitude), one might think that Chrissie Hynde recorded Alone all on her own. Though she's the only Pretenders holdover from days gone by, there's a very solid supporting cast backing her here. Fellow Akron, OH native Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) produced this album and the backing musicians include Duane Eddy on the track "Never Be Together." Though it all sounds great on paper, it never really gets off the ground after that fabulous title track.