POSTCARDS FROM PARADISE
Universal Music Enterprises (CD)
by Gillian G. Gaar
Ringo Starr’s new album is a lot like seeing him in performance; it’s all about kicking back and having a good time.
It marks the first time Starr has produced an album fully on his own, recording at his home studio in Los Angeles with a little help from friends like Joe Walsh, Dave Stewart, Peter Frampton and Todd Rundgren, among others. It also has more of a full-bodied sound in comparison to his last studio album, “Ringo 2012.”
Beatles fans will have the most fun with the title song, which draws extensively on Beatles song titles. His feel-good homilies (“Bridges,” “Not Looking Back,” an ode to his wife, and the self-explanatory “Let Love Lead”) are pleasant, but insubstantial, largely due to the unimaginative vocals and Starr’s limited vocal range. So it’s nice when he varies the formula, as on the surprisingly downbeat “You Bring the Party Down” (addressed to a friend struggling with substance abuse issues). “Bamboula,” set in New Orleans, also has a touch of zydeco flavor. “Island in the Sun” is especially interesting, as it’s the first song written by his All-Starr Band compatriots. With its ’70s-era opening sax line, gentle reggae beat and its longing for a personal piece of paradise, it wouldn’t have been out of place on 1973’s “Ringo.”
Starr rarely performs many songs from his later albums in performance, but with some stronger material on offer here, he should consider it.