Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Chrissie Hynde: Valve Bone Woe (BMG)

A review of the Pretenders' singer's first jazz album

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Chrissie Hynde, Valve Bone Woe
The cover of Valve Bone Woe by Chrissie Hynde

News that rock legend Chrissie Hynde had a jazz recording in the works seemed equal parts cringeworthy and intriguing. The track record of rock stars enhancing their own considerable nostalgia by mining the classic American songbook has yielded some treacly results. On the other hand, Hynde belongs to a group of veteran iconoclasts like Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, and Joe Jackson, who could bring a distinctive sound to the project and call it something of an aesthetic expansion. 

Valve Bone Woe—the title taken from her brother’s poetic response to news of Bob Brookmeyer’s death in 2011—works best as a sonic portrait of a dilapidated Hollywood mansion that still evokes some of its postwar glory but with abundant scruffy edges showing. Hynde’s husky alto tackles classics like Sinatra’s “I’m a Fool to Want You” and Carmichael’s “I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes)” without evoking the ballroom glamour (think leather motorcycle jacket instead of gown). But she also brings her own sensibility to the repertoire, covering Nick Drake’s “River Man,” Brian Wilson’s “Caroline, No,” and “No Return” by ex-significant other Ray Davies. She mostly lays out on Mingus’ “Meditation on a Pair of Wire Cutters” and Coltrane’s “Naima,” but they reinforce the coolness. Unfortunately, the lush orchestration often weighs matters down rather than uplifting them.

The ambivalence that runs through the lyrics of many of the songs here is also well-suited to the attitude toward genre. Hynde calls it her “jazz dub” recording, which is accurate enough, but it doesn’t quite feel like a Hynde recording, though it does offer a through line to her take on “I Wish You Love” from the movie Eye of the Beholder. There’s a possible link to, say, “Brass in Pocket” too, but that would require the daring of a spare setting with a couple of trusty sidekicks.

Preview, buy or download Valve Bone Woe on Amazon!


Are you a musician or jazz enthusiast? Sign up for our weekly newsletter, full of reviews, profiles and more!