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| 7 October 2015 | Reply

18 September, 2015
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Keith Richards - Crosseyed Heart

As the survivor of a long-standing affair with Sister Morphine; snorter of an Everest of Columbian marching powder and – allegedly – his own Dad’s ashes; life on the road for fifty years; writer of too many Rolling Stones classics to name; inspiration for iconic movie character Captain Jack Sparrow; influencer of just about everybody from pop strumpets to metal gods; and most likely the only creature alive after a nuclear holocaust, Keef Richards has earnt the right to pretty much do whatever he wants.

Lucky for his many fans around the world, he has overcome his self-confessed laziness (and the enormous burden his day job with Rolling Stones Incorporated must entail) to make a very welcome third solo album, more than twenty years after Main Offender, his second.

Started in cahoots with long-time session drummer Steve Jordan around 2011, Crosseyed Heart was built up by the twosome over a couple of years before Richards’ regular X-Pensive Wino compadre Waddy Wachtel, as well as the incomparable Ivan Neville and Stones alumni Bernard Fowler and Blondie Chaplin, amongst others, were available to step in and finish the songs off.

Mention the louche pirate swagger of the elegantly wasted rock star, and Keef is your go-to image. He doesn’t disappoint with this collection, either, revisiting all his primary influences and Keef-ing them up in fine fashion.

There’s Stonesy rock n’ roll (of course – Trouble, Heartstopper, Something For Nothing), blues (the title track, Nothing On Me, Leadbelly’s Goodnight Irene, Blues In The Morning), touches of country (Robbed Blind) and reggae (Love Overdue) and soul (Just A Gift, Lover’s Plea, Illusion – a gorgeous and sexually tense duet with Norah Jones), all overshadowed by Richards’ gravelly vocal – at times like a hot wind blowing over desert rocks.

Those vocals have some seriously rogueish lyrics to wrap themselves around. There’s tales of loving two women, the attraction of opposites, late-night love, heartbreak and reprobate behaviour, all delivered with a confidence and ability that few possess.

The most knowing grins, of course, given his chemical backstory, are reserved for Robbed Blind and Got Nothing On Me. The first insists “I can’t call the cops – who knows what they’ll find”, while the second rejoices getting busted and getting away with it.

“If you want to understand Keith,” Ivan Neville has said, “look at the music.” That has never been more true than on Cross-Eyed Heart: a collection to thrill the wastrel and wannabe pirate rock star in everyone who loves rock n’ roll.

Category: CD Reviews

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