Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Pretenders 16: Valve Bone Woe

If anyone’s read this far, they know the high esteem in which we hold Chrissie Hynde as a singer. In addition to her own songs, she’s proven a deft interpreter of others’ music since the first Pretenders album. Her first all-covers album has the design of a classic jazz vocal album, but while some of the selections on Valve Bone Woe fall into that category, she’s also brave enough to add songs outside the Great American Songbook.
Nancy Wilson’s “How Glad I Am” is taken fairly straight, until the slightly discordant fade, which sets up the trip-hoppy effects that derail the Beach Boys’ “Caroline, No”, otherwise taken in a torch style. “I’m A Fool To Want You” and “I Get Along Without You Very Well” are more reverent treatments, and she seems to only wail along with the trumpet on “Meditation On A Pair Of Wire Cutters” by Charles Mingus. One might expect her to tackle an Astrud Gilberto vocal, but instead she goes for the earlier Jobim composition “Once I Loved”. Meanwhile, her “Wild Is The Wind” follows closer to David Bowie’s version than that of Nina Simone or Johnny Mathis. (She does the bridge just once, preferring an extended ending that will make you nostalgic for Portishead.)
Trip-hop effects also color “You Don’t Know What Love Is”, and while we’re intrigued anytime someone covers Nick Drake, Bred Mehldau set the bar for “River Man”. Still, the ending nicely segues to “Absent Minded Me”, which she heard from either Julie London or Barbra Streisand, although this is also taken over by factory sounds by the close. We can’t hear her anywhere on Coltrane’s “Naima”, which also gets the effects treatment, but luckily “Hello, Young Lovers” isn’t too ornate. She tackles an obscure Kinks song for the first time in decades, but the already bossa nova “No Return” could have stayed out of the rainforest, especially when the traffic jam runs through it. “Que Reste-t-il De Nos Amours?” shows she can still slay us in French, but we did not need a minute of sampled dialogue from a French film. Maybe we’d feel different had we learned the language.
As should be clear, Valve Bone Woe is best when it’s not so busy. Even her voice can’t compete with all the treatments; co-producer Marius de Vries is likely to blame for those. That said, she still knows how to pick ‘em.

Chrissie Hynde With The Valve Bone Woe Ensemble Valve Bone Woe (2019)—3

No comments:

Post a Comment