Ronnie Wood’s I Feel Like Playing

7.5 out of 10: A solid release from an elder statesman of the rocking world

Ronnie Wood, the perpetual sideman, has nonetheless already released six solo records to go along with his latest, I Feel Like Playing, which yet again demonstrates what seems so unlikely: Ronnie can actually sing. Sure, there aren’t any lilting melodies to trip him up, but Wood’s gnarled, rich voice feels like aged scotch whiskey, the warm, woody spirit this album of bluesy rock and roll evokes from beginning to end.

Wood wrote ten of the eleven songs on I Feel Like Playing, and no doubt his writing method differs little to how teenagers in garage bands the world over have always written songs: stick down a riff, get the rest of the band to follow and mash together some words. There’s a big difference in Wood’s case, however: he’s been churning out riffs since time immemorial, and the hamfisted lyrics on songs such as Lucky Man, Fancy Pants and 100% go by unnoticed next to the sound of rock and roll so professionally distilled.

Although I Feel Like Playing features a whole bunch of musicians who, ironically, end up as Wood’s sidemen, you’d never know that the likes of Flea, Eddie Vedder, Billy Gibbons, Kris Kristofferson and Bobby Womack are playing. Except for a bunch of stylish Slash solos on about half the tracks and the luscious Bernard Fowler vocals on the duets I Gotta See and the stand-out Forever, this is a Wood record through and through — and all the better for it.

I Feel Like Playing is a million miles from the edgy new thing; it’s stodgy, square and solid, the kind of thing you can rely on. That’s almost an insult in the world of rock and roll, but not everything needs to be revolutionary, and not everything is nearly as good as this solid Ronnie Wood release.