She’s a vegetarian/ But me I love my meat.” Keith Richards sings of relationship tensions on “Heartstopper,” the second track on his new solo album, Crosseyed Heart. As he works it out with his vegetarian honey, Richards and his band the X-Pensive Winos work out an easygoing groove that Rolling Stones fans won’t fight over. But this lack of conflict also means there’s a lack of passion and urgency. What do you expect from a senior Stone?

The album starts with the title track, a convincing acoustic blues number that Richards gives up on before two minutes is up: “Alright, that’s all I got.” It’s not all he’s got, not by a longshot. The 71-year old sideman doesn’t deliver any knockout riffs, no “Satisfaction” or “Start Me Up” or even a “Before They Make Me Run.” But with co-producer Steve Jordan (whose drums stand in for Charlie Watts), Richards turns in a journeyman effort that’s the smoldering soundtrack of a man who you can’t really believe is still alive and making music.

For an aging bad boy who is the epitome of the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll myth, his creaky voice is surprisingly benign, like an avuncular British elder. On “Amnesia,” Richards plays with the mental faculties that fans may assume he has (read: none): “Got knocked on my head/ Everything went blank/ I didn’t even know/ The Titanic sank.” The track plays off Richard’s unlikely survival, its brooding shuffle peppered by a piano line that suggests a forgotten, unfinished riff.

Crosseyed Heart is Richards’ third solo album and his first in 23 years. As befits a septuagenarian, it’s almost autumnal, with gentle ballads like “Robbed Blind” and “Illusion,” a duet with Norah Jones. But as he looks back on a life lived with vigor, he still has a mischievous eye. The album’s first single, “Trouble,” is its most Stoneslike, addressing a friend in jail with a tone that’s less celebratory than admonishing: “Baby, trouble is your middle name/ Your trouble is that that’s your game.”

You get the sense that Richards can casually toss off Stonesian title hooks until he’s 100: “Trouble,” “Something for Nothing,” “Nothing on Me,” “Suspicious.” None of these tracks are destined for rock ‘n’ roll Valhalla—you’d have to be Robert Johnson to make compelling music out of a title like “Blues in the Morning.” But they’re the predictable, comfortable work of a guy who’s been making a life’s work out of this.

The album’s least typical track is Richards’ version of Lead Belly’s “Goodnight Irene,” which suits the concept of a rock elder who seems just as old to today’s youth as “Goodnight Irene” did when Mick and Keith were teenagers. In fact, they’re even older; Huddie Ledbetter first recorded the song in 1933, some 30 years before the Stones release their first single. More than 50 years has passed since that landmark.
That passage of time gives the album’s title an added resonance: how long before his heart gives out? He’s not ready to give up yet. Crosseyed Heart probably wouldn’t catch your interest if it wasn’t by a Rolling Stone, but it’s a respectable if slight statement from a rock elder. Just don’t expect anything that will strain your heart.

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