30 May 2011

Full Circle

Things were tough after I graduated from college. I was literally floundering at the bottom of the employment food chain when my friend, a crusty old man named Dirty Jack McNellis said, “Do what you love Renee. Follow your passion”. Well, I love music and I love to write so I combined those two passions and began to nurture them.

Almost two years later I found myself covering indie female singer/songwriters and female guitar players. One of those guitar players was Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. It was my first big get, the first interview with a musician who resides in the realm of rock and roll icon. That interview taught me everything I needed to know about interviewing.

It's ten years later and I'm at the beginning of yet another phase of my journey. Because Miss Hynde was my first major interview, I thought it would be a great idea to break in the new blog with my September 2010 review of her side project.  


- Renée 



Fidelity!
JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys
La Mina/Rocket Science                                    


Most die hard fans of The Pretenders know gossipy and not so gossipy bits about lead singer and rhythm guitarist Chrissie Hynde’s love life. Most die hard fans also know a great number of her songs tend to be autobiographical.

Well, the latest chapter devoted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s book of love comes in the form of 31-year old Welsh singer/songwriter/guitarist JP Jones. Together with Patrick Murdoch (guitar), Sam Swallow (piano, keyboards), Vezio Bacci (bass), and Geoff Holroyde (drums), they make up JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys.
 
The opening act for the recent Lucinda Williams concert at Humphreys, the band’s 11 track debut Fidelity! (a chronicle of her May-December relationship with Jones), opens with “Perfect Lover” on which Hynde remains true to her 1950’s do-wop compositional core and old school country music candor:
I smoke and drink and eat too much/and other things I shouldn’t/I’d like to think I’d never touch what other women wouldn’t.
 
Fueled by passionate R&B licks “Fairground Luck” doesn’t go as far as it could, but Jones crackles like a burgeoning Tom Waits on “Leave Me If You Must” and manages to find an interesting pop and roll pocket on “If You Let Me”. While “Australia” tends to strain for epic love story status and falls short, the title track makes a pretty good case for adult contemporary country.
 
With the exception of “Courage”, which begins meaningfully and even finds some early Pretenders footing, the remaining tunes seem better suited for a Jones solo project. Bottom line? Die hard fans may be happy Hynde is in love again - not so happy with the hit and miss hooks.           

- Renée Westbrook

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