Chrissie Hynde "Stockholm"

During a career that spans parts of five decades Chrissie Hynde has never released a proper solo album. She’s preferred to work within a band format, presenting herself as one of the guys, most notably with Pretenders and most recently as JP, Chrissie, and the Fairground Boys. Stockholm is the first album credited only to her although in recent interviews she insist that even this album is a band effort - albeit an unnamed, uncredited one. Despite Hynde’s co-operative attitude she is such a dominant talent that the spotlight seeks her out.

Stockholm bears the name of the city in which it was recorded. Hynde works primarily with young Swedish musicians. Bjorn Yttling leads the pack as producer and co-songwriter. As a member of the trio Peter, Bjorn, and John, he created shining pop songs that mixed electronic dance beats with the kind of contagious melodies that made his Swedish predecessors, Abba, international stars. Here he adds glossy production to Hynde’s songs, but smartly keeps her vocals front and center in the mix. And what a voice it is. Hynde’s vibrato is unmatched in rock music, and at age sixty-two she still has the chops to bring a scathing ferocity to “Dark Sunglasses” in which she eviscerates her subject. Even on love ballads she teeters between tenderness and challenging intensity. “Like in the Movies” finds her warning her love “don’t f—k with this heart of mine.”

Hynde’s mixes and matches her musical themes. “You Or No One” is reminiscent of Phil Spector’s epic girl band love songs, with drum rolls and swelling production. That dramatic tension shows up again on “A Plan Too Far” which features tumbling percussion and ringing guitar lines that sound faintly American south western. Spanish style acoustic guitars are joined by xylophone and whistling on the introspective broken heart ballad “Tourniquet.” If you’re looking for an out-right rocker you won’t find that here. Much of the album falls into a mellow mood.

Stockholm features a couple of notable guest appearance from Neil Young and John McEnroe (yes, the tennis player) who add guitar to the recording.  The album doesn’t match the best of Hynde’s catalog, but it does present a woman who continues to take risks; damned be the conventional thought on what she should be doing.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)