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While some love affairs end in heartbreak and tears, the fling that fizzled between rocker Chrissie Hynde and a songwriter almost half her age resulted in a new band, an autobiographical album and an eco-conscious clothing line.
Hynde, the 58-year-old front woman for the legendary rock group the Pretenders, took such a liking to JP Jones, a Welsh singer whom she met two years ago at a party in London, that she whisked him away to Cuba, where they wrote most of the songs for “Fidelity!” the new album they’re releasing Tuesday with their band, JP, Chrissie & the Fairground Boys.
“It was a surprise to me,” says Hynde of her romance with Jones, with whom she’s still very close if not officially back on. “We could have said, ‘We have no future. See you later.’ I didn’t need to create a new band. The band I have with the Pretenders is awesome. [But] when I sit down, I write about him.”
Jones, 33, is the subject of the album’s opening track, “Perfect Lover.” Over a twangy guitar, Hynde croons: “I found my perfect lover, but he’s only half my age. He was learning how to stand when I was wearing my first wedding band.”
“The whole album is about two people who can’t be together for a certain reason,” Jones explains. “We wrote about each other, for each other, to each other. [Now] we get to be in a band together, which is better than any relationship anyway.”
In the group — which also includes Patrick Murdoch, Sam Swallow, Vezio Bacci and Geoff Holroyde — Jones’ deep, guttural voice complements Hynde’s smooth, straightforward singing, as they trade verses in rock tracks driven by acoustic guitars with hints of country and blues. In conversation, they play off each other just as easily. As much as Hynde is reclusive, Jones is gregarious and playful (after all, he did fearlessly introduce himself to her at that party in London).
Considering their warm rapport and similar sartorial sensibilities, Hynde and Jones are joining forces for another project, an environmentally friendly clothing line, Fairground Luck, named in honor of Jones’ childhood as the son of a carnival arcade owner. The duo intends to offer looks that appeal to musicians and style mavens alike: T-shirts, skinny jeans, leather jackets, handbags and cowboy boots inspired by Hynde’s friend Emmylou Harris. Because Hynde is a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals activist and has been a vegetarian since she was 17, no animal skins will be used. She’s already consulted with designers Todd Oldham and John Bartlett, who, she says, “are into it.”
“Like most women, I love fashion and clothes,” says Hynde, who counts designer Stella McCartney as a good friend. “I love handbags and shoes. Everybody will be able to find everything they love in a nonleather version. Fashion should be fun.”
Ever the admiring partner, Jones quickly repeats, “Everything should be fun.”