WHO IS SHE? The leader and sole permanent member of the great Pretenders. The unmistakable vocalist with arguably the greatest contralto and most expressive vibrato in rock. And the woman who says the F-word better than almost anybody around.
WHAT IS THIS? A so-called “jazz/dub” covers album — produced by Marius de Vries and Eldad Guetta — which finds Hynde putting rock on the back burner to purr and croon oldies written and/or recorded by the likes of Sinatra, Coltrane, Mingus, Carmichael, Nancy Wilson, Astrud Gilberto and Rodgers/Hammerstein, with a few pop gems from Brian Wilson, David Bowie, her ex Ray Davies and Nick Drake in the mix.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Actually, jazz/dub is a pretty accurate description of this distinctive hybrid, which surrounds Hynde’s luscious vocals with everything from big-band bombast to moody orchestrations — then decorates the results with post-modern soundscapery and fiddly sonic filagrees.
WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? Jazzy Belle.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? Not on a playlist with The Pretenders — these ballads and experiments are a long way from Precious and Middle of the Road.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Bold, intriguing, sophisticated, bittersweet, elegant, artsy, tender, textured, heartfelt, cool.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? The trippy Caroline, No and the smouldering Wild is the Wind might be the most familiar cuts for the more pop-oriented fans, but honestly, everything here is gorgeously performed, played and produced.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘Jazz, shmazz. She could sing the instruction manual from a toaster and I’d listen to it.’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? It’s definitely one for the wee small hours and long lonely nights.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A BAR, WHAT KIND OF BAR WOULD IT BE? A smoke-filled lounge in Berlin.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? It’s only right to pay for something this precious. Think of it as a birthday gift to Hynde, who released this album one day before turning 68.