Created as a means to keep Ringo Starr busy during lockdown, the former Beatles drummer’s new EP ‘Zoom In’ is heavily influenced by these ‘unprecedented times’ – borrowing its name from the pandemic’s favoured video call platform, a huge collection of guests having joined its musical conference call.
Ringo’s enlisted Sir Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Sheryl Crow, Jenny Lewis, Corinne Bailey Rae and Sam Hollander from Panic! At The Disco, while taking great pains to distance himself from Rita Ora‘s approach to COVID-19 restrictions; he has emphasised on a number of occasions that “safety precautions” were followed throughout – the musical answer to posting your ‘socially distanced boozy park brunch’ on the grid.
Sonically, ‘Zoom In’ is ruled by the sort of upbeat, unrelenting jollity we expect from Ringo ‘Peace and Love’ Starr – its only moment of reflection, ’Not Enough Love In The World’, stomping cheerfully along like the theme tune to a canned-laughter sitcom, even as he despairs of a world lacking in… peace and love. “Every day, the news always sounds the same / You seem so far away, we’re breaking in two,” Ringo sings, stuck inside and communicating through a pixelated screen. Soon, though, he’s back on message. “Don’t give up!”
‘Here’s to the Nights’, written by ‘Rhythm of the Night’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing’ songwriter Diane Warren, is Ringo’s very own paean to the upcoming restriction-lifting fervour of June 21. With its heart (and noodling guitar solos) is in the right place, the song quickly escalates from #relatable to celeb-quarantine preposterousness. “Here’s to falling on your face, getting back up and winning the race,” he sings early on – the pint-clutching masses surely united behind his words. Yet he continues more questionably: “Here’s to reaching for the stars / “Hanging out in castles or hanging in the yard.” Pardon?!
Title track ‘Zoom In Zoom Out’ finds Ringo searching for poetic meaning in glitchy video calls: “Zoom in to get a new perspective,” he sings with abandon, “Zoom out to see we’re all connected”. And ‘Waiting For the Tide To Turn’ cuts through the boredom with a slice of motivational dub-lite. “Let’s make some reggae music, and it will be a better day,” he promises, a debatable statement in this context.
Well-meaning and positive, ‘Zoom In’ is the aural equivalent of wishing somebody a ‘Happy Hump Day!’ over email, while wearing a daft grin. For all its flaws, this is a hard record to hate. It’s also nice to hear that, instead of moaning about being caged in a massive mansion, this celebrity is focusing on lifting the rest of us up instead.
Release date: 19 March
Release label: UMC