Sound — 5
The outcast. The other Beatle. The one who came up with some of the those trippy songs about Octopuses and gardens. No matter the title, Ringo Star is still a Beatle. He's still the drummer who helped solidify the four-piece for a number of years and even up til now, he's still making music. Though none of Starr's solo work has been groundbreaking, they've still attracted fans and those who rely on traditional pop to get them through the morning. As a follow-up to 2010's "Y Not", "Ringo Starr 2012" is a nine-track album of sorts that's strapped on covers (Buddy Holly) and re-recordings from the 70s' to present listeners with an album that still holds together simplistic melodies with groovy retro pop rock. Every signature Ringo wail and backing vocal spills out the musician's style, adding to the precision he's taken with "Ringo 2012". Recorded and mixed in England, the 71-year-old Brit tracked drums, vocals and keys, giving more new material bits of synth and older numbers more percussion, which works when the beat takes a funky turn, not when it's trying to reinvent a 1950s' tune built on character. Starr is a talented musician, who has an eye and ear for music itself, but the record's arrangements seem far-fetched; not in the Abbey Road vein, but almost hokey as certain tracks carry too much in terms of sound ("Step Lightly", "Samba") becoming a distraction and not a song that deserves to be turned on.
Lyrics — 5
"When I was a kid in Liverpool / The rain never stopped but the sun always shined in my mind". Unlike previous releases, Starr's simple quirkiness makes a significant impact in his songwriting. His voice, the nasaly low-pitch tone, is still the same and barely stretches to be anthemic when it needs to be ("Anthem") and quietly projects along without showing any life ("Wonderful", "Rock Island Line") when he's attempting a Jerry Lee Lewis number or a similar pop track dialed back to the 50s' and 60s'. All the shaky notes and murmured words barely impact the album's lyrics, which in fact are a form of enjoyment. His history of fans didn't fall in love with his voice. Most of his popularity as a primary songwriter is attributed to his use of unusual phrases and simplicity that's relatable. There are hints of this scattered throughout "Ringo 2012", but they don't have the same effect with lines such as "Your mind is busy with woulda-shoulda-could" being equal to previous solo album titles like "Bad Boy", "Ringo Rama" and "Ringo's Rotogravure". In smaller parts, they compliment Brit pop very nicely but hesitate to make any sort of impact on a larger scale.
Overall Impression — 4
Rating a solo album from one of the founding members of one of the greatest rock bands to ever grace a stage is as intimidating as telling your mother her cooking "sucks". Ringo, as an instrumentalist, is one of the best when it comes to his genre. However, the overkill of solo attempts since the 1970s' has proven he still struggles when he's composing by himself. "Ringo 2012" is proof of just that; beneath the covers and the resurrected recordings that fans will rush to hear, the album's plain, letting a lack of character overtake Starr's ability to actually sit down and write music that people will want to here. Yet with the t-shirt designs, charities and various organizations that are involved with his personal lifestyle, it's hard to say if that will ever happen.