Ringo Starr

Y Not

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Ringo Starr defined his solo career through his collaborations, scoring his first big hit with the assistance of his fellow Fabs and later sustaining himself through his All-Starr Band, so his decision to produce 2010’s Y Not on his own appears to be a big deal. Of course, those collaborators sharpened Ringo’s focus but never altered his amiable pop -- that friendly, shambling sound is Ringo, something Y Not proves without a shadow of a doubt by sounding virtually interchangeable with its immediate predecessors despite a production that inexplicably feels like a response to George Harrison’s 1987 comeback, Cloud Nine. Since Ringo bathes himself in unrepentant nostalgia, this 20-year flashback is odd but appropriate because Starr is all about cheerful reminders of happy times filled with Peace Dreams and memories of “The Other Side of Liverpool.” Starr does have some famous friends to bolster his journey through the past -- Van Dyke Parks co-wrote “Walk with You” but his presence is obscured by a Paul McCartney harmony, Joe Walsh is partially responsible for the stiffly thumping “Fill in the Blanks,” Richard Marx keeps the '80s nostalgia flowing on “Mystery of the Night,” while Joss Stone valiantly tries to pull the proceedings into the present on the album-closing “Who’s Your Daddy,” a song where Ringo comfortably plays second banana -- but he has no overall collaborator; he’s steering this ship himself and has no desire to depart from his familiar course home. Again, like there was on Liverpool 8, there is charm to Starr’s tried and true: exciting it is not but it’s as comforting as an old friend who doesn’t change, he just stays the same.

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