Are Keith Richards and Darlene Love Washed-Up? – A Double Album Review

JosephShin

While browsing through Apple Music this weekend, I was surprised to find new albums by Darlene Love and Keith Richards. These artists being anything but current (they both peaked in the ‘60s), I found great irony in seeing them in the “New Music” section. So the question remains, are these albums worthy of these legends’ names or are they simply throwaway efforts?

First, Keith Richards’ “Crosseyed Heart.” Don’t worry. Richards has lost none of his guitar prowess. The entire album is suffused with Richards’ skillful playing, but the novelty of “Crosseyed Heart” lies in its inspiration – as a whole, the album seems to be a love letter to Richards’ musical predecessors. Touches of legends like Muddy Waters, Hank Williams and Chuck Berry can be felt throughout the album. “Trouble,” the lead single, is a particularly memorable song. Indeed, if it were polished up, it could be a Rolling Stones track. Other highlights include “Robbed Blind,” a moody country song and the reggae-influenced “Love Overdue” which has a haunting quality. In this album, Richards proves that he can stand on his own. Doesn’t hurt to have the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” as a backup though. Out of four stars, this album deserves a 3.

“Introducing Darlene Love” is the best that nostalgia can get. Those who aren’t familiar with Love’s name are probably familiar with her hits with famed producer/convicted murderer Phil Spector in the early ‘60s like “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” or “He’s A Rebel.” At 74, Love still has the power to sustain a whole album. Songs like “Forbidden Nights” prove this. Her duet “Still Too Soon To Know” with fellow singer Bill Medley is poignant. Famous E-Streeter Stevie Van Zandt takes on Spector’s heavy helm and succeeds in some regards. He loses some of the physicality that made Love’s earlier recordings a joy, but his production works particularly well on the Springsteen-penned “Night Closing In” and his own gospel song “Jesus Is The Rock.” In other spots though, the production comes off as both cheesy and cheap. Perhaps they should break Spector out of jail to give the album some life. In any case, Love’s vocals throughout soar. For that reason, this album gets a 3.

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