Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Pretenders - Break Up the Concrete

The Pretenders have been around since before I was born. Now that that's out of the way, I can tell you that if you haven't at least heard of them or their mainstay lead singer Chrissie Hynde you've probably been living under a rock. For a quick low-down on their history you can read the bio at AllMusic. What you need to know is that this new album is the first studio album since 2002. It continues a trend that has seen the personnel change through the years but it's said to be only for the studio recording. The current roster for the studio is comprised of Hynde, guitarist James Walbourne, pedal steel player Eric Heywood, bassist Nick Wilkinson and session drummer Jim Keltner. The usual drummer Martin Chambers will retake his position behind the drum kit for the upcoming tour.

Break Up the Concrete is out today (10/7) via Shangri-La Music and clocks in at 36.5 minutes with 11 songs ranging from 2:14 to 4:48 in length. Top to bottom it's a solid album. It's groovy with crunchy guitars, some great percussion rhythms, and of course Hynde's signature voice. She's truly a rock 'n roll woman whose music can stand up against the men, and crush many of them. There are straight out rockers, slower ballads, and a few songs in between. This release is special not only because Hynde doesn't go into the studio all that often, but this is only the 2nd album to bear The Pretenders name in the past 10 years. Clearly, Hynde is standing firmly behind this music and wanted to put the ultimate stamp of approval on the album. For having been singing for 20+ years it's amazing that Hynde's voice still sounds fresh, dynamic, and full of verve. Musically speaking, this album is a return to form for Hynde and The Pretenders name. Not that they were gone and forgotten, but this is a rebirth. It's not as rough and hard-rock tinged as early efforts. The hard rock swagger has been substituted with a rockabilly bounce and country-rock sensibility (on the ballads). Overall, this Pretenders album feels like that old sweatshirt I have in the back of my closet that hasn't been worn in a while (because I live in SoCal): it's familiar, comfortable, and makes me wonder how I could have gone so long without it.

"Break Up the Concrete"

Love's A Mystery (LIVE on The Today Show)

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