The Diva Returns
Her new album is
called Bare. Maybe thats what youd expect for the title of
an album by a twenty-something pop princess. But Annie Lennox isnt a member
of the bare-midriff league. For two decades, Lennox has been one of the music
businesss premiere pop singers and songwriters, with a vocal range, repertoire,
and outlook that the average American Idol auditionee would kill to have.
first solo album since 1995s album of cover songs, Medusa, and fans have
been discussing her return on Internet message boards. Most of them are enthused
about the single "Pavement Cracks." The song speaks of a rainy day
( a not unusual event in Annie Lennoxs current place of residence, London)
and the singers insistence on walking in the rain even though "all
the water colors have turned to black." Beginning as a slow ballad, "Pavement
Cracks" builds to a louder volume and faster tempo with each chorus, taking
the listener along on Lennoxs emotional trip from despair to an attempt
In fact, all eleven tracks on Bare deal with the pain and loss involved in merely
living ones life. Its a recapitulation of Lennoxs often frustrating
personal life during the years of her popularity. "I always believed that
artists had to suffer," Annie says. "I knew they had to have some
dark shadow, carry some cross, in order to gain the stamp - the certificate
of authenticity, as it were. She humorously suggests that the album might
better be suited to the shelves of a bookstores self-help section than
to the bins of record stores.
A quick glance at the song titles tells the listener what to expect: The
Hurting Time, Bitter Pill, Loneliness, The
Saddest Song, Erased. But there are also songs called Honestly,
Wonderful, and 1000 Beautiful Things, a melancholy song
with an uplifting message. As Annie describes it: "A friend of mine used
to say that I saw the glass half empty, rather than half full. He was right.
I did. I do. So this is a kind of reminder to myself of the many reasons why
I should show gratitude for just being here-and-now in the world.
Although Bares official release date is June 10 in the U.S., Lennox has
already been touring in support of the album since late March. With the North
American leg of the tour now ended, she will be touring Europe through July.
Her act uses material from her work both solo and with the Eurythmics from over
the years. Which means, for fans of her more uptempo 80s hits, that they
will probably be hearing the evocative "Here Comes the Rain Again,
the rocking feminist tribute sisterhood celebration "Sisters Are Doin'
It for Themselves," and the classic Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).
Los Angeles Times music critic Robert Hilburn summed up Annie Lennoxs
Los Angeles concert at UCLAs Royce Hall as a terrific piece of theater
and an inspiring salute to the survival instinct in us all. With the current
tour and the release of Bare, its clear that Lennox has survived to bring
her music to a new century that needs it.