Friday, March 3, 2023

Pretenders 18: Standing In The Doorway

In addition to countless and sometimes notable covers, Bob Dylan tribute albums have been a thing since the ‘60s, but the Covid lockdown inspired many to re-associate themselves with the man’s music. Chrissie Hynde has unabashedly worn her Dylan devotion on her sleeve throughout her career, even adding “Forever Young” to one album, but Standing In The Doorway is a true labor of love. To her credit, she’s chosen nine songs more beloved to fans than jukeboxes, with half of the songs coming from the ‘80s. The album was recorded via text; she’d do a take, then send it to current Pretenders guitarist James Walbourne to add other instruments. Somewhere along the way veteran engineer Tchad Blake added further touches, mixed the batch, and took photos for the album package.
It all sounds very homemade, as befits modern file transmission, from the pre- and post-chatter around “In The Summertime” and “You’re A Big Girl Now” to the birdsong heard here and there. The title track has modified chords from the original, but they suit her delivery; her lyrical adjustments aren’t as successful on “Sweetheart Like You”. Despite its minimalist structure, “Blind Willie McTell” develops into an impressive production. “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” gets accordions and mandolin-like touches yet remains a happy strum, but “Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight” is the highlight, though that could be because we heard the opening chords and feared a take on “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”. “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” is played straight, while “Every Grain Of Sand” is elegant and understated.
Standing In The Doorway isn’t the most innovative Dylan tribute, and her vocal approach often mimics his, sometimes sounding more parody than homage. But at 70, Chrissie Hynde remains an excellent interpreter of anyone’s songs, and not just her own.

Chrissie Hynde Standing In The Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan (2021)—3

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