Album review: Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde takes jazz turn on Valve Bone Woe
Chrissie Hynde, "Valve Bone Woe" (BMG)
Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde brings much of the same qualities to Valve Bone Woe — her latest collection of tunes, mostly orchestral jazz — to her rock performances: attitude, commitment and expressiveness.
Working with producers Marius de Vries and Eldad Guetta, along with mostly UK-based jazz musicians like David Hartley, Ian Thomas and Andy Wood, Hynde opens with the song from this album that could most unobtrusively fit on one by the Pretenders: a verbose rush through the horn-heavy How Glad I Am, a 1964 hit for Nancy Wilson.
A large string section often adds a dreamy dimension to compositions like John Coltrane's Naima, where the lack of lyrics doesn't keep Hynde from making an impression, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Hello Young Lovers and Nick Drake's delicate River Man.
That dreamiest of styles, bossa nova, gets a couple of nods, first with a real standard of the genre in Once I Loved, but also with a hidden gem from The Kinks' 1967 album Something Else, Ray Davies' bossa nova-inspired No Return.
Hynde sounds decidedly youthful on Absent Minded Me, while the Beach Boys' Caroline, No is one of several songs where synths and dub-like sound effects create a slightly disturbing mood.
On a record where the pace is decidedly leisurely nearly throughout, a little disquiet is welcome.
While more than a handful a rock 'n' rollers have tried their hand at similar albums (and some can't keep from continuing to try), Valve Bone Woe also has Hynde's smarts and a sharp selection of songs going for it.
Even if her fabulous vibrato is mostly kept in check, Valve Bone Woe is successful, ear-catching and ear-caressing. Woe is you if you miss it.