Chrissie Hynde – one of the boys or femme fatale? Provocateur or force of nature? Tremulous alto or ultimate rock & roll chick? Woman of the world or bandleader? How about all of them? Since forming the Pretenders three decades ago, Hynde has proven to be a one-of-a-kind tough-minded, outspoken and an utterly uncompromising artist – yet also capable of moments of heart-wrenching tenderness.
Hynde has recorded just nine studio albums since the original Pretenders lineup cranked out their barrier-smashing debut in 1980 and Break Up the Concrete is but the second album to bear the Pretenders nameplate in a decade. That makes the arrival of any new Pretenders album something of an occasion and even outright celebration. Throughout the dozen songs on Break Up the Concrete, Hynde brings the trademark cool and much of the heat of the early Pretenders albums to a richly American setting. None of the five musicians who comprise this set of Pretenders has recorded with her before – but they take to her songs like they’ve been waiting all their lives for this moment. Legendary drummer Jim Keltner needs no introduction. The rest of the crew collectively represents something dynamic and fresh. Added to this is Concrete showing Hynde in peak form as a singer, engaged as a writer and performing with the same vitality and intimacy of the classics she penned years ago.