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Pretenders - Relentless

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 25 / 10 / 2023

Pretenders - Relentless
Label: Rhino
Format: CD


Classy and rewarding, latest album from The Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde has ventured into some unexpected artistic territory over the past few years – including a solo album of jazz standards and another with some excellent Bob Dylan covers. The 72 year-old American singer (who is mainly UK-based and now with dual US/UK citizenship) was once described by Neil Young as “the ultimate true rock'n'roll woman”. She has continued her involvement in The Pretenders - a group she formed in London over 45 years ago - and, after a lull during the pandemic, she and the band have recently been busy burnishing their rock'n'roll credentials playing intimate shows and summer festivals. At Glastonbury this year, Hynde performed with guests Dave Grohl on drums and guitarist Johnny Marr before enticing Paul McCartney to join her on-stage for a quick curtain call. Now Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders have released a new album, ‘Relentless’. This fits perfectly with the charismatic Chrissie who has been performing on stage this year! It is produced with an old-school melodic sheen and contains many nods to Chrissie's past with Telecaster-driven pop gems in the tradition of early singles like ‘Stop Your Sobbing’ and some tough yet tender ballads in the style of “I'll Stand By You”. Chrissie has co-written the new album with James Walbourne, a guitarist who has recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis and Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan. His exquisite playing adds a contemporary crunch to Chrissie's soul-tinged melodies and brief pop songs. In her song-writing, Chrissie Hynde has never been especially introspective, saying “You need to keep a tight check on that, keep some perspective, objectivity” - and she gives a typically hard-nosed view of lockdown on mid-tempo rocker ‘Losing My Sense Of Taste’, comparing the loss to a jaded musical palate. Even when playing the romantic, Chrissie remains candid and unsentimental...... “I don't mess with burning coal, or anything I can't control” she confesses on ‘A Love’ - though she sounds more optimistic on ‘Let The Sun Come In’ where she sings, “They even say we must die, I don't believe it, that's a lie”. Some of the best songs on the album are ballads - always one of Chrissie's strengths - with ‘The Copa’ nicely constructed around twangy guitars and ‘I Think About You Daily’ using an inspired string arrangement by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood who modestly commented, “That arrangement actually wrote itself because of Chrissie's amazing voice. She is one of pop and rock's greatest singers - ever”. There is no question that ‘Bewildered’ is a classy record - reaffirming that even in her sixth decade as a Pretender, Chrissie Hynde is still at the top of her game!

Track Listing:-
1 Losing My Sense Of Taste
2 A Love
3 Domestic Silence
4 The Copa
5 The Promise Of Love
6 Merry Widow
7 Let the Sun Come In
8 Look Away
9 Your House Is On Fire
10 Just Let It Go
11 Vainglorious
12 I Think About You Daily

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