Sure, Chrissie Hynde hasn't been a vital artist since the late 1980s, but she's never been -- I don't know, what's the word? -- unwelcome. Is that too harsh? Maybe not, especially after hearing this record, a project with her most recent paramour, some dude from Wales named JP Jones.
First, let me state that Hynde has one of my favorite voices in the history of rock and her first record, the self-titled Pretenders debut, is on my short list of the best records of all time. The second Pretenders record had some high points, Get Close was average, and Learning to Crawl is pretty great. Since then, it's been very hit-and-miss with me and The Pretenders. But, this, the first Hynde record without The Pretenders name attached to it is not good.
Ostensibly a public love letter between Jones and Hynde, Fidelity! is rarely interesting, despite its thematic content. I suppose it's not my place to judge their relationship, so I won't, but, for context, it must be mentioned that Hynde is nearly 60 and Jones is in his early 30s. I don't care too much about the generational difference, and I hope they're very happy together, but I do care that Jones is bringing down Hynde. In other words, Ray Davies he ain't. He's not even Jim Kerr.
Hynde sounds as good as ever. Jones is pretty weak -- think Paul Westerberg without any of the vulnerability or any of the guts. Or sometimes, he sounds like he's trying to sound like the guy from that movie Once. When Jones is singing alone, he's just another rough-hewn rocker. When he's dueting with Hynde, it's darn near unlistenable. Beyond that, the music itself is like a sub-Sheryl Crow light rock.
I'd love to hear what you diehard Chrissie Hynde fans think about his record.
Best song: Definitely not the lead track, "Perfect Track," which features the line: "I found the perfect lover, but he's only have my age . . . But I want him in my kitchen and standing on my age."
Rotation: Low >Deja vu: Too much information. I'd rather listen to: Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warren's "Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong" Grade: D-
"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.