Last year’s Break Up The Concrete gave The Pretenders their best-selling album for close to two decades. But rather than consolidate on any revival in the band’s fortunes Chrissie Hynde has opted for an intriguing diversion.
JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys: Fidelity!
A curious, unexpected country-tinged love story.
A chance meeting with jobbing 31-year-old Welsh musician JP Jones two years ago has led to this pleasing album of country pop with a built-in concept.
Mirroring the age gap between Hynde and Jones themselves, Fidelity! takes the form of a song cycle about a burgeoning pan- generational romance. The older woman celebrates her young beau in the waltz and sway of the opening Perfect Lover (‘He was learning how to stand/When I was wearing my first wedding band’) and the Hammond-led soul of Fairground Luck, but Jones is wary of the pitfalls on Leave Me If You Must, offering a note-perfect gravel-voiced facsimile of country royalty Kris Kristofferson.
The more pumped-up selections would not sound out of place on a Pretenders album, which is inescapable considering Hynde’s distinctive voice, but it’s the folky twinkle and rustic rhythms of Jones that help cement the record’s atmosphere, suggesting a bourbon-soaked pub rock version of Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra.