Having just finished reading Keith Richards‘ Life earlier this year, Crosseyed Heart comes out at a time when a lot of those details about the guy’s life are still fresh in my mind. The nice thing about listening to the new album with that knowledge is kind of like having a little treasure map to pirate Keith’s creative process (although these days he’s looking a little more Leonard Cohen than Captain Teague).
Take the opening track: It’s simple and dirty and is basically Keith saying that he’s never forgotten his first true love affair with the blues. It’s effective in its quality and placement and feels like an outtake before Steve Jordan‘s snare drum breaks in to introduce Heartstopper as a growling, driving piece full of Keith signature open-G riffs.
There is actually plenty of familiarity on this album, particularly with The X-Pensive Winos backing things up. Waddy Wachtel‘s slide work on Trouble remind me of his work on live versions of Happy from previous Wino’s tours and the straight ahead aptly named bluesy romp “Blues in the Morning” is a blast and an obvious nod to Chuck Berry and pays an honest debt to the beginnings of Rock and Roll. And what Keith Richards album would be complete without a little bit of Jamaica thrown in (Love Overdue)?
And it’s not all rock and roll (but we still like it) as there are a number of ballads on Crosseyed Heart. Illusion featuring Norah Jones is a standout among them and is dreamy in its quality but is immediately shown up by Richards’ rendition of Goodnight Irene, which is a beautiful homage to his love for country /roots music.
This definitely sounds like an album that Keith wanted to make. It’s loose, and a little clumsy and feels like a Friday night jam full of great chops, familiar players and good vibes. Keith did this album his way and we wouldn’t complain for a second.
1. Crosseyed Heart
4. Robbed Blind
6. Love Overdue
7. Nothing On Me
9. Blues In the Morning
10. Something For Nothing
12. Just a Gift
13. Goodnight Irene
14. Substantial Damage
15. Lover’s Plea