Rolling Stone - p.784 stars out of 5
-- "[T]he best Pretenders record in years, a mix of galloping rockabilly and country & western songs, delivered in Hynde's trademark snarl..."
Entertainment Weekly - p.71
"[W]ith her velvet-sandpaper vocals and unflappable rock-chick cool, Hynde is more than enough to build an album around....She cuts loose with an effortlessness it takes years to cultivate..." -- Grade: B
Q (Magazine) - p.1294 stars out of 5
-- "[I]t's Hynde who steals the show with her lip-curling vibrato, part Elvis, part Dusty, never more intoxicating than on the seductive 'Almost Perfect'..."
Blender (Magazine) - p.76
"The Pretenders' ninth studio album is a pleasant roots record....Hynde sings about May-September romance and the search for the paved-over soul of her busted hometown, Akron, Ohio..."
Paste (magazine) (p.57) - "Hynde's voice is as recognizable as ever -- all slow vibrato, unrestrained high notes and staccato alto..."
Record Collector (magazine) - p.923 stars out of 5
-- "The steel guitar of Son Volt's Eric Heywood is a new voice to the mix, while Jim Keltner adds a veteran's deft touch to the rhythm tracks."
Personnel: Chrissie Hynde (vocals); James Walbourne (guitar, accordion, piano, background vocals); Jim Keltner (drums, background vocals); Eric Heywood (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Don Smith .
Recording information: Sage And Sound Studios, Hollywood, CA (04/13/2008-04/25/2008).
Photographers: Richard Young; Adrianne Callaway.
The first Pretenders album after the longest recording layoff in the band's history (six years), BREAK UP THE CONCRETE finds Chrissie Hynde re-energized, fronting a new bunch of musicians on a fresh, arresting batch of new songs released on a new label. Original drummer Martin Chambers, still part of the touring outfit, is replaced here by session-drummer king Jim Keltner. Perhaps even more significantly, new arrival Eric Heywood (pedal steel) boasts a lengthy Americana resume (Son Volt, Jayhawks, Ray LaMontagne) and brings with him the highest quotient of rootsiness ever to occupy a Pretenders album.
While there are some driving rockers that recall the glory days of "Precious" and "Tattooed Love Boys," with Keltner employing ingeniously mutated New Orleans-cum-Bo Diddley beats, a striking number of tracks here roam a more roots-rock-oriented area. Warm, organic acoustic-guitar strumming and long, keening pedal steel lines frame Hynde's one-of-a-kind voice on the slow-burning country-soul waltz "Don't Lose Faith in Me," the rather Lucinda Williams-esque "Love's a Mystery," and other smartly conceived tunes, balancing out an album that's simultaneously earthy and urgent.