Whenever a new Ringo Starr album comes down the pike, one knows exactly what’s coming, and that’s long been one of the reasons to look forward to these releases. Starr albums are generally uncomplicated, fun albums featuring the former Beatle playing loosely with his celebrity friends on albums which sound fresh even as they hold their odd little place in time.
Y Not is Starr’s fifteenth solo album, and as has been his tradition he brings in friends like Joe Walsh, Ben Harper, Richard Marx and Joss Stone to help in some manner with the productions. The album’s a quick listen, 10 songs and a little over 35 minutes of music, and like many LPs from when Starr first began recording, there are some solid tracks and some filler, making the album a bit of a mixed bag. But it opens well with the blues rocker “Fill In The Blanks,” which features Walsh on guitar, and there are no real duds on the first half of the album.
The album’s most notable song would have to be its lead single “Walk With You,” which features Paul McCartney and Starr in one of the strongest ballads Starr has written. It’s also the first song ever to feature Starr and McCartney singing a duet, which after hearing the song seems a real shame, since the two share solid chemistry here. Ringo’s always had a flair for pulling off songs which in other hands would sound ridiculously sugary, and this is a prime example; the song comes off as the two former bandmates enjoying the simple act of singing about lifelong friendship. As a single it’s a bit of a stretch, since even adult contemporary radio is unlikely to play it for long, but it’s a strong centerpiece to the album.
Other standouts would include “Peace Dream,” a typically bleeding-heart ode for peace that, since the death of John Lennon, only Ringo Starr could pull off and not sound hoplessly naive. It’s among the catchiest songs on the album, even when the lyrics occasionally overreach. And the album’s closer, an outright blues stomp with Joss Stone called “Who’s Your Daddy?” is the album’s most fun track, as Joss’s protagonist tells Ringo’s cheating liar where to stick his act.
At it’s heart Y Not is a workmanlike album from an artist who made his solo career out of albums that play well for a while and then step back to let other music in. In that vein, it’s a solid addition to his work in the last decade or so, and though it’s unlikely to earn him new fans, it’s pleasing to the ear of listeners who have enjoyed the rest of Starr’s post-Beatles discography. For someone who has been recording music since 1957, it’s hard to find any fault with an album that sounds as light and fun as anything else he’s recorded, with hints that he’s got no plans to stop anytime soon.
Reprinted with permission from Stereo Subversion.