The Rolling Stones | Hackney Diamonds Review
by Griff Stevens
Hackney Diamonds, the latest offering from The Rolling Stones, is a milestone album, especially poignant following the loss of drummer Charlie Watts. The album, their first of original material since 2005’s A Bigger Bang, is a representation of the band’s enduring spirit. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood continue to defy age and expectations, showcasing their iconic sound that has been a hallmark of rock for decades.
The album’s production, helmed by Andrew Watt, lends a contemporary sheen to the Stones’ classic approach. While some may argue that Watt’s influence leads to a glossier, more polished sound, it’s undeniable that his touch brings a fresh energy to the band’s well-established style. Tracks like “Angry,” “Get Close,” and “Driving Me Too Hard” are quintessential Stones – they boast catchy choruses and Jagger’s signature snarl, a blend of familiar comfort and renewed vigor.
Though critiqued for being more conventional, Richards’ soulful guitar work fits well within the album’s overall tone. His lead vocals on “Tell Me Straight” shows a vulnerable side to the Stones that’s often overshadowed by their rock persona. This track and others like “Dreamy Skies” allow for a deeper exploration of emotional themes, showcasing the band’s range beyond their archetypal rock sound.
The album also features an impressive array of guest musicians, adding depth and variety. Paul McCartney’s bass on “Bite My Head Off” introduces a dynamic punk-infused energy, while Lady Gaga’s vocals in “Sweet Sounds of Heaven” complement Jagger’s in a stirring gospel number. Including Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and others enhances the album’s eclectic nature.
Despite some critiques about the album’s commercial leanings and its appeal to a specific demographic, Hackney Diamonds remains a robust addition to The Rolling Stones’ discography. It’s an album that balances nostalgia with contemporary elements, a difficult feat that the Stones manage with their characteristic flair. The result is a collection of songs that reflect their storied past and still resonate with today’s audience.
Hackney Diamonds is a shining example of The Rolling Stones’ ability to evolve while retaining the essence of what has made them icons. The album may not be a groundbreaking departure from their past works, but it confirms their status as rock legends. Welcome back, Stones – your journey inspires and entertains, proving that true rock spirit knows no age.
Release Date: October 20, 2023