Let’s just get this out of the way right up front; The Pretenders are whatever Chrissie Hynde wants them to be. The only other original member, Martin Chambers, has been in and out of the bands lineup over the years. So if Chrissie wants to call an album recorded in Nashville with a bunch of session players a Pretenders album, that’s her prerogative.

Alone was cut at Easy Eye Studio with the Arcs/Black Keys main man, Dan Auerbach. Auerbach has a way of getting performers out of their comfort zone and pushing their creativity. The title track sets the tone. It’s a down and dirty rock and roll tune with Hynde reveling in the street hassle poetics of Lou Reed. The song has decades of rock ju-ju wrapped up in its swaggering ode to independence. Isolation and a bit of self-loathing flavor the album. “I Hate Myself” sounds like a tortured therapy session with Chrissie pouring out the things she hates about herself and asking us to agree with her.

Alone has a number of slow and pretty songs, but I’m partial to the thumping growl of “Gotta Wait” and the New Wave flavored “Holy Commotion”. On these tunes, I can imagine the dis-incarnate specters of James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon looking on approvingly, nodding and saying, ‘yeah, the girl’s still got it.”

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