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Spotlights [Issue # 3 ]
Annie Lennox: The Diva Returns

By Lynne Bronstein

Her new album is called Bare. Maybe that’s what you’d expect for the title of an album by a twenty-something pop princess. But Annie Lennox isn’t a member of the bare-midriff league. For two decades, Lennox has been one of the music business’s premiere pop singers and songwriters, with a vocal range, repertoire, and outlook that the average American Idol auditionee would kill to have.

It’s her first solo album since 1995’s 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 Lennox’s current place of residence, London) and the singer’s 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 Lennox’s emotional trip from despair to an attempt at hope.

In fact, all eleven tracks on Bare deal with the pain and loss involved in merely living one’s life. It’s a recapitulation of Lennox’s 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 bookstore’s 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 Bare’s 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 Lennox’s Los Angeles concert at UCLA’s 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, it’s clear that Lennox has survived to bring her music to a new century that needs it.


The Diva Returns Annie Lennox Bare

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