THE PRETENDERS: Alone (CD)

Alone (CD)

Chrissie Hynde was working on a solo project with the Black Key’s Dan Auerbach in his Nashville studio, organically recording the follow up to her 2014 album, the superb Stockholm. The new record had been tentatively entitled Chrissie Hynde Practices Her Autograph. Then it dawned that those driving guitars, ragged-but-righteous arrangements, the tough yet tender lyrics delivered by the most distinctive voice of a generation sounded fantastically familiar. Ultimately, this could only mean one thing:

The Pretenders were back. And this wasn’t a cynical brand reboot, more a happy accident. Hynde shrugs, “These things happen. It’s just a name.” Having effectively reformed her groundbreaking band, Hynde decided to rechristen the record. With characteristic perversity, she called it Alone. Thirty-six years after The Pretenders’ first album, Alone could be the older, wiser, badder sister to that exhilarating debut. “It’s a riot,” said Chrissie Hynde. “I am blown away myself. I really am. Every time I hear it, it just makes me laugh. To me if you are laughing, it is rock and roll. I don’t know how we achieved it but it sounds classic. I guess the team just went out and scored some goals.”

The team, approvingly described by Hynde as “real people playing real instruments,” features Johnny Cash’s former bass player Dave Roe and country rocker Kenny Vaughan on guitar plus sundry members of Dan Auerbach’s side project The Arcs: Richard Swift on drums, Leon Michels on keyboards and Russ Pahl providing sly curlicues of pedal steel. All the while, Auerbach stood as captain, producer, multi-instrumentalist – he unleashes some outlandish electric guitar - and all around a cool head.