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Album review: Ringo Starr's 'Y Not'

January 11, 2010 |  6:08 pm
RINGO_STARR_240_ During a recent sit-down with Elvis Costello on his Sundance Channel music-interview show "Spectacle," U2 singer Bono talked about the importance in life of sustained effort along a particular direction, a thought that's inescapable listening to the latest release from former Beatle Ringo Starr. Even though John Lennon and George Harrison snagged most of the public attention over the years with their efforts promoting peace and love, Starr has consistently reiterated those themes in his solo work coming up on 40 years since the group disbanded.

He spends a bit of time here simply banging away happily on a couple of rockers that bookend the album ("Fill in the Blanks" and "Who's Your Daddy"), and there's one fun name-dropping reminiscence of youth ("The Other Side of Liverpool"). But the heart of the 10-song collection comes from his continued exploration of how to hold onto noble ideals in the face of ever-rising cynicism and violence.

"Peace Dream" guilelessly invokes Lennon's name and message; "Walk With You" is a big-beat ballad ("love is the answer and it is real") that soars when Paul McCartney adds one of his incomparable high harmony parts to Starr's workaday voice. Approaching his 70th birthday in July, Starr also takes a lightly funky look at the passage of all those decades in "Time." He holds securely to an upbeat perspective that borders on cliché -- "Today is the best day of your life" -- that's somehow reassuring coming from the guy who's spent most of his life in an intimate relationship with time.

-- Randy Lewis

Ringo Starr
"Y Not"
Three stars (Out of four)