On September 15th, the Beatles’ ex-drummer Ringo Starr released his 19th solo studio album, ‘Give More Love’. Announced on the artist’s 77th birthday and spiced up by contributors such as Paul McCartney and Joe Walsh, the album presents itself as the umpteenth reaffirmation of Starr’s musical creativity. The All-Starr Band, originally formed in 1989, also recently revealed their upcoming US tour dates, to begin this October, playing some new music for the first time since ‘Postcards from Paradise’, released in 2015.
‘Give More Love’ was initially conceived as a country album, but later developed towards multiple genres. What should we expect from a first listen but an almost inevitable appellation of masterpiece?
The answer is, much more. The listener is warmly welcomed by a promising and optimistic ‘We’re on the Road Again’, whose guitar sound is instantly familiar, in an explicit reminiscence of 70s rock ‘n’ roll. Then ‘Laughable’ kicks off, with a chorus that seems inspired by Lipps Inc’s ‘Funkytown’, adding an interesting context to the album. “Woke up this morning I was feeling good / Turned up the radio I understood / Things are changing like never before” – not exactly Shakespearean poetry, but ’Laughable’ is the beginning of a journey, or the incipit to a story.
The next three songs, ‘Show me the Way’, ‘Speed of Sound’ and ‘Standing Still’, are pseudo-gospel versions of Guns ‘N’ Roses’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, an even less interesting three minutes of rock ‘n’ roll, and the unrevolutionary country sounds that we were all waiting for. But then ’King of the Kingdom‘ begins, and the storyline is finally clear. An unexpected turn to reggaethen leads to a chorus that sings “one love, one heart”; perhaps the most popular hymn to peace and reconciliation that has ever existed. In other words, fashionably halfway through the album, the purpose of it all emerges.
As we begin to understand that ‘Give More Love is very much about the message, the album keeps developing through blues, dance, swing, and even 60s rock ‘n’ roll. From ‘King of the Kingdom’ onwards, to ‘So Wrong for so Long’, ‘Shake it Up’ and finally ‘Give More Love, themes of friendship, solidarity and mutual acceptance become the focus. The touching beginning of the title track emphasises the prominence of current affairs and the sense of uselessness that humans feel towards what they cannot change: “Sometimes this world can be a hard place / We wonder where we go from here / So many hurting bad, lost everything they had / It’s hard to know what we can do / Give more love”. Later, the song intensifies around the subject of communication, urging the listener to find better ways to express feelings.
Overall, the album reconciles the familiar sounds of numerous genres, in what seems to be a deep analogy with spoken language. Love is the message, and every song presents a different shade of it. Those who follow Ringo Starr, and even those who don’t, know him as an almost historical character, The Beatles’ beatmaster, a constitutional member of rock ‘n’ roll’s hall of fame. However, in ‘Give More Love’, he appears to attempt a political, rather than melodic, effort, in a remarkable combination of sounds and ambitions. Whether the album is innovative, or whether it simply merges fragments of previous unconventional works, is debatable. But in a world full of continuous misunderstanding and destruction, Ringo Starr’s message definitely deserves to be heard.
‘Give More Love’ is out now via Universal Music Enterprises.
Lara Dal Molin is a writer, aspiring journalist and software engineer based in Winchester. She is currently an undergraduate at the University of Surrey, where she studies Liberal Arts and Sciences.