Keith Richards CROSSEYED HEART
At 71, Keith Richards steps up for a solo album that earns its place alongside both his and The Rolling Stones’ discography.
Because Richards is Mick Jagger’s songwriting partner and guitarist in The Stones, “Crosseyed Heart,” Richards’ first solo album in 23 years, often plays like the Stones minus Jagger.
That’s especially true of the ripping “Heart Stopper,” “Troubles” and — a song made in the image of first-generation rock ’n’ roller Chuck Berry — “Blues in the Morning.” The latter trio of “Crosseyed Heart” songs parallel classic tracks on the early ’70s Rolling Stones albums “Sticky Fingers” and “Exile on Main St.”
Richards rarely sang lead for Rolling Stones recordings but he does so well enough throughout “Crosseyed Heart.” In slow, softer selections, he even croons with warm sweetness.
Richards surrounds himself with longtime collaborators and a few guests who comfortably complement him. Norah Jones joins him for the poignant “Illusion.” Organists Spooner Oldman and Ivan Neville help set the soulful Muscle Shoals mood for “Lover’s Plea.” A three-piece horn section brings authentic reggae sound to the two Gregory Isaacs songs Richards adds to “Crosseyed Heart.”
Battles LA DI DA DI
On its third album, “La Di Da Di,” Battles goes full instrumental. Gone are the guest spots from Gary Numan found on the sophomore “Gloss Drop,” or even the bonkers melody lines that punctuated Battles’ debut “Mirrored.”
No, “La Di Da Di” is all about the music. And it’s great ... if you want to imagine what it would be like to be Kramer in the “Seinfeld” episode where he was dating Elaine’s roommate and kept jamming a mix of animal noises and African tribal songs.
Like Battles’ previous efforts, the songs feature a cool passage here and there. Opening track “The Yabba” shows how drummer John Stanier can make a song propel with his rhythm. But alongside his beats, there are keyboard taps and incessant noises that are only great if you’re over-caffeinated.
“Dot Com” is much better. The band gives way to its Krautrock tendencies. Much like Battles’ best songs, the song builds off one idea and keeps growing like a tree. It’s a lot darker than what precedes it, and the band is better for it.
The song makes you wish they called on friends like Numan to sing something. Or stopped with the weird experiments and just wrote a damned song.
Ryan Adams 1989
An alt-country chameleon is getting some of the best reviews of his career with a new take on Taylor Swift’s “1989.”
While Adams’ versions are pretty and heartfelt, it’s hard to believe in any of it. If anything, it proves that Swift’s songwriting is good, but you would have to be hiding under a rock not to know that.
It’s hard not to hear the calculation in this project. Adams has his reasons. He recently broke up with Mandy Moore and fell in love with Swift’s album, then covered Swift in the vein of Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” and The Smiths.
It’s not awful. This is just the state of music. The guy who wrote masterpiece albums like “Heartbreaker” has to resort to covering a 25-year-old’s diary entries to get new Twitter followers.