Postcards from Paradise
Rating: *** 1/2
Believe it or not, Ringo Starr will be inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame this year for his solo career. Since the announcement, people have been asking one question: why? In Ringo’s defense, he is not being inducted as a performer but rather for “musical excellence.” While he didn’t have the strongest solo career, Ringo has never stopped working since the break-up of the Beatles. Whether he’s with his All Starr Band, on his solo albums or someone else’s album, Ringo is indeed a trailblazer. Ringo’s latest album, Postcards from Paradise, proves this point: it’s Starr’s 18th studio album, his first since 2012’s Ringo 2012. Compared to Ringo 2012, Postcards from Paradise is an improvement as the album is longer and doesn’t feel rushed (Ringo 2012 was less than half an hour). Still, the album is certainly not an instant classic. If anything, Ringo makes his albums for fun. With that being said, Postcards from Paradise is a fun album to listen to.
When looking at the tracking list for the album, I was impressed to see that there wasn’t a song with “Liverpool” in the title. The opening track, “Rory and the Hurricanes,” might’ve mostly taken place in Liverpool. The song is a sweet autobiographical 50s rock n roll number about Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, the band Ringo was in prior to joining the Beatles. While it might be seen as corny, I personally enjoy the song and love how Ringo is paying tribute to the band that gave him his start. The psychedelic reggae “You Bring the Party Down” is an interesting track: while this is Ringo’s song, it reminds me of a John Lennon solo track. During the chorus, I can easily imagine Lennon giving a hearty vocal performance (“I Found Out” comes to mind). If Lennon was an influence on the track, I would not be surprised.
The next few tracks are, in my opinion, fall on the weak side. “Bridges” has a strong vocal performance from Ringo but nothing more while “Right Side of the Road” just doesn’t go anywhere. The title track, which is the album’s lead single, might be cringe-worthy for some listeners. The song is written in the form of a letter, with Ringo referencing Beatles songs Gene Shalit style. It’s not a bad song, mind you. In fact, it’s kind of cute in a way. The second half of the album is stronger. “Not Looking Back” is a beautiful slow ballad with solid lyrics while the guitar and keyboard led “Touch and Go” is simply catchy. The festive “Bamboula” features some impressive drumming, celebrating all things New Orleans. The reggae influence is strong on this album and can be heard throughout most of the album. This is certainly the case for “Island in the Sun,” as it features island steel drums and rousing saxophone playing.