Whenever Richards does depart to the Great Riff Heaven in the Sky, I hope his daughters – should they take up his recent suggestion – leave behind a little for the rest of us to smoke and/or snort [each to their own] so that we can all share in the laid-back essence of Keef. Until then, we have this album to imbibe.
Richards’ latest solo, 23 years after the previous, begins with its title song, 1 minute and 52 seconds of a lovely finger-picked acoustic blues where Keith waxes laconically about his lovers before running out of anecdote with right that’s all I got and we move into an electric Heartstopper which sounds like so many of the recent Stones’ album songs: light riff, sweetish chorus, some harmony vocal, and a brisk guitar break.
Third Amnesia starts with Keith growl-talking about when the shit kicks in, and then more rolling riffs move us neatly on with sax puffs and echoed vocal reflecting on falling out of a tree [literally, if you recall], a tight guitar break; fourth Robbed Blind is a wonderful country-infused ballad where Keith talks some more about having his stuff half-inched.
The consummate Keef track is fifth Trouble where he also reminds us he can sing – inimitably – if he tries, and those riffs are as punchy as ever, slide complementing: band X-Pensive Winos attending again.
Seventh Nothing on Me is sublime with those simple but sharp chord strides, Keith adamant about his survival and proving it in these songs at 71, both comically self-effacing and defiant, that he has not waned. Next Suspicious slows it back down to more sweetness. Quite gorgeous really.
The blues of Blues in the Morning rises up after this to remind of roots and all those many years of Richards’ groovin’ so. Something for Nothing introduces some soulful background singing in the chorus, and the duet with Nora Jones, Illusion, is a piano based ballad of hushed rise and fall.
Penultimate Substantial Damage is all jagged riff’n’roll, Keith’s own blues explosion, and the album end on Lover’s Plea is surprisingly slowed again, but it is another sweet ballad, Stax-soul horns, and talk of love reminds us perhaps of the grizzled romanticism at the heart of the great man’s outwardly ramshackle persona.