Depending on your count (namely, whether you choose to include 1999's I Wanna Be Santa Claus or not), What's My Name is the 20th album Ringo Starr has released as a solo artist, but the real telling part of that statistic is how eight of those records have been released in the 21st century. During the 2000s and 2010s, Ringo has been treating the recording studio like an extension of his All-Starr Band, inviting his celebrity friends in to have a laugh while playing a few tunes. Not much has changed with What's My Name, at least on the surface. Starr once again sits alone in the producer's chair, and he corrals a group that features a lot of familiar faces, including Joe Walsh, Steve Lukather, Nathan East, Benmont Tench, Dave Stewart, and Colin Hay. Ringo isn't shy about evoking the ghost of the Beatles, covering John Lennon's "Grow Old with Me," a choice that is a good bit more sensitive than a ham-fisted electronic reading of "Money" filled with clanky drum machines and vocoders. Grappling with the mayhem of modernity is an underlying theme of What's My Name, surfacing explicitly on the opening "Gotta Get Up to Get Down" when Joe Walsh announces himself by blustering "Everybody's on the internet, what's up with that?" Such grumbling and griping is drowned out by the good vibes. Ringo admits on the title track, "I can't get enough of peace and love/This is what I've come to understand," and there's a sense of gratitude flowing throughout What's My Name, apparent in "Magic," "Better Days," "Life Is Good," "Send Love, Spread Peace," and "Thank God for Music." Often, his good cheer comes across as corny, a situation accentuated by the big, bright surfaces -- it's the work of pros who are working at home, seeking only to please themselves. As the spirits are sunny and the songs tuneful, it's hard not to find What's My Name ingratiating, even though much of the album is so good-intentioned, it's silly.
What's My Name Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine