Good things come in small packages where Ringo Starr is concerned. EP3, as the title indicates, is the prolific Beatles drummer’s third release in the past 18 months. The pandemic has been a work prod for Starr, recording in his own Roccabella West Studios with engineer and co-producer Bruce Sugar and, of course, a little help from his friends.
Like 2021’s Change the World, the four-song EP3 is a tighter affair than early 2021’s guest-laden Zoom In. But it’s every bit as engaging, as Starr and company bash out a set of up-tempo and lyrically upbeat tracks that sound like nothing less than him having fun with his mates. This one won’t make us forget “It Don’t Come Easy” or Ringo, but the exercise certainly showcases how adept the Starr men (and women) are at getting the good time they’re having across in the grooves.
Long-tenured All-Starr Band guitarist Steve Lukather and his Toto mate Joseph Williams penned and perform the opening “World Go Round,” with Starr addressing post-pandemic trauma (“I know it’s hard to carry on / So for you I wrote this song”) over a brassy rocker that features a stinging solo by Lukather. The guitarist is also back on “Let’s Be Friends,” playing a treated version of his instrument for the similarly high-octane (and brassy) Sugar-Sam Hollander track.
Linda Perry, who wrote “Coming Undone” for Change the World, returns with “Everyone and Everything,” whose Americana flavor supports the lyrical admonitions about kindness, patience and tolerance, all leading into a “Yellow Submarine”-style chorale singalong section. And “Free Your Soul” is fronted by Dave Koz’s tenor saxophone and Jose Antonio Rodriguez’s nylon-string acoustic guitar for some jazzy pop that closes things out on a relaxed note.
There’s an element of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it breeziness to EP3, but it’s hardly a toss-off. Starr’s peace-and-love philosophy is genuine and infectious, and we should take any chance to bathe in that aural optimism.
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