Trying his hand at a bit of “When We Was Fab” nostalgia, the Beatles drummer strikes a most intriguing chord on one particular tune, “For Love,” a finely crafted nod to the work of his former bandmates. It bears no resemblance to the ’60s though as this is loaded with the touches associated with the solo works of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison: the density in the production, Jeff Lynne-inspired lushness in the strings, yo-yoing between hurried and relaxed vocal lines and, of course, a discourse on love. It’s one of the most convincing tunes Starr has recorded in his 38-year solo career.
Love and peace, more than good ol’ Liverpool, provide a thematic throughline in his return to the EMI fold. Considering how breezy and easygoing the bulk of the album is – producers Dave Stewart and Mark Hudson provide solid and comfortable frameworks throughout – it’s surprising that title track has a sluggish feel. Tune is a celebration of a hometown, Ringo’s shot at “I Love L.A.,” complete with football fans shouting “Liverpool,” the one moment that makes it feel like a party rather than an old man slowly turning through pages in a scrapbook.
Elsewhere, Starr is in fine form, bringing in some elements of his past – a bit of skiffle, a Bo Diddley beat, the light swing of a showtune – and even throwing in a nod to “It Don’t Come Easy.” The diverse standouts include “Give it a Try,” a life-affirming ditty with a Caribbean flair; the fun throwback “Harry’s Song”; and “Love Is,” a cross between a “White Album” outtake and a Lennon “Double Fantasy”-era ballad.