Chrissie Hynde Delivers Unique Jazz Influenced Covers Via ‘Valve Bone Woe’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Chrissie Hynde decided to change up genres for her newest release. The cover album, titled Valve Bone Woe, finds her diving into one of her earliest loves, Jazz. Her voice and song selection work well, going over the top at times to nail the tune with all the requisite pomp and circumstance but also experimenting in unique ways. 

The Pretenders front woman seems entirely comfortable perhaps because a few of the efforts are rock-based songs interpreted in jazz style. “Caroline, No” by the The Beach Boys keeps the atmospheric feeling of the original, but pushes up the flute work and extends the track to almost double its original run time as Hynde’s dynamically smoky vocals hit the right notes. Nick Drake’s atmospheric “Riverman” loses some of the intimacy with pretty pianos and a slowed down dramatic tempo, but gains a wider cinematic scope. Hynde also interrupts The Kinks “No Return” with a mix of direct and avant-garde, having been closer to the songs writer than most (Hynde and Ray Davies had a child together in the early 80’s), her version is a must hear, even improving on the original in some regards.  

The torch song drama of Frank Sinatra’s “I’m A Fool to Want You” is gorgeous in the late night lonely vibe but like the majority of the tracks, it piles on the schmaltz to high degrees with grand piano lines, weeping strings and blue as hell muted trumpet. This is the point though as Hynde and the players go big throughout, including the sultry “Once I Loved” and the down-and-out so-noir-it-comes-across-in-black-&-white love ballad “You Don’t Know What Love Is” written by Don Raye and Gene De Paul.      

Some other standards find her vocals in fine form like the slower Hoagy Carmichael tune “I Get Along Without You Very Well” and Rodgers & Hammerstein “Hello, Young Lovers” but it is a track like the players rendition of Charles Mingus “Meditation on a Pair of Wire Cutters” where the ensemble show off their experimental style, re-interpreting a 25 minute tune into a 3 minute workout as Hynde’s voice successfully acts as another instrument in the mix. 

Hynde belongs in these waters with her gorgeous vocals leading the way around the production and playing. How much these cover versions are necessary can be debated, but Hynde has clearly branched out with success and while Valve Bone Woe seems to be a one off, her jazz credentials are now well established. 

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