Nostaliga / Annie Lennox
Label: BLUE NOTE / EMI
Annie Lennox is an icon, not only because her voice is without peer, but because for four decades she has fearlessly surrendered herself to her music. It has taken her down dark roads and up joyous paths. Throughout, she has resolutely defied categorization, diving into blues, soul, folk and pop— all with equal abandon— to create songs that captivate and bewitch, and, more than anything, make us feel less alone. On “Nostalgia,” Lennox reveals another layer. Even though jazz is not the genre for which she is best known, how could she resist the siren call of some of the most memorable melodies and lyrics from the Great American Songbook: songs like George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward’s languid “Summertime”; Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell’s wistful “Georgia on My Mind”; Abel Meeropol’s shattering “Strange Fruit,” and Johnny Green and Edward Heyman’s yearning “I Cover The Waterfront.” Many of the 12 songs here are rooted in the blues, which have always combined the beautiful and painful — crossroads Lennox knows all too well. These songs haunt as much as they enchant. On “Nostalgia,” her sublime interpretations of these classics renders them both timeless and new, bringing an intoxicating intimacy to the material that makes us want to lean in closer to the speakers to breathe in her every nuance. Some of the masterpieces on “Nostalgia” are more than 80 years old, yet they stand as relevant and poignant today as when first written. They are permanent fixtures in a transitory world, and, like artists such as Nina Simone, Ray Charles and Billie Holiday, who performed them before her, Lennox proves herself to be a more than worthy and faithful steward of these precious treasures for the short time they are under her watch.