Following the disbandment of Eurythmics in 1991, vocalist Annie Lennox began a solo career that rivaled Eurythmics' in terms of crossover popularity. Born and raised in Aberdeen, Scotland, Lennox began playing music as child, learning how to play both the piano and flute. In her late teens, she won a scholarship to London's Royal Academy of Music, but she dropped out before she took her finals. For the next several years, she worked around London, performing various jobs during the day and singing at night. In the late '70s, she met guitarist Dave Stewart through a friend. Stewart, who had previously played with Longdancer, asked Lennox to join a new band he was forming with a songwriter named Peet Coombes. The band was named the Tourists, and they released three albums between 1979 and 1980 and scored a number four U.K. hit with a cover of Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to Be with You." While they were collaborating in the Tourists, Lennox and Stewart became lovers. Soon, tensions within the band grew, and by 1980 the pair had left the band to begin Eurythmics. During the early '80s, the sleek synth pop of Eurythmics became one of the most popular sounds of new wave, racking up a number of hits in both the U.S. and U.K., including "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," "Love Is a Stranger," "Who's That Girl," and "Here Comes the Rain Again." Midway through their career, Eurythmics began pursuing a harder, more straightforward rock & roll sound. In 1990, following the release of Eurythmics' commercial disappointment We Too Are One, Lennox announced that she was taking a two-year sabbatical to have a child. During this time, the group quietly dissolved, Lennox had a baby, and she began working on her first solo album. Diva, her solo debut, arrived in 1992 and showcased a calmer, more mature vocalist designed to cross over into the adult contemporary market. On the strength of the singles "Walking on Broken Glass" (number 14) and "Why" (number 34), Diva sold over two million copies in the U.S. alone; the album was also nominated for three Grammy awards. Lennox delivered her second solo album, a covers collection entitled Medusa, in 1995. Peaking at number 11, Medusa spawned the hit single "No More I Love You's" and went platinum by the end of 1995. Lennox took some time off to raise her child and become more actively involved with humanitarian endeavors. A full eight years after Medusa was released, she returned with Bare, one of the strongest and most personal albums of her career. After another break, she released Songs of Mass Destruction in September 2007 and made plans to embark on an extensive North American tour, starting in October. Three years later, Lennox returned to recording with her first holiday album, entitled A Christmas Cornucopia. In 2014, she delivered another covers-oriented album, the Mike Stevens-produced Nostalgia. The following year, Lennox re-released the album as Nostalgia: An Evening with Annie Lennox, which included both the original studio album and a bonus Blu-Ray disc of her live PBS concert recorded on-stage at Los Angeles' historic Orpheum Theatre backed by a 19-piece ensemble.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 30, 2003 | RCA Records Label
It's been eight years since Medusa, Annie Lennox's last studio album, was released. It's been 11 since her debut solo effort and five since the short-lived Eurythmics reunion. And while she may not be prolific, Lennox is always enigmatic. Bare is a collection of self-penned tracks, as the artist explains in the liners: "This album contains songs that are deeply personal and emotional. In a sense I have 'exposed' myself through the work to reveal aspects of an inner world that are fragile...broken through experience but not entirely smashed. I am not a young artist in their (sic) twenties. I am a mature woman facing up to the failed expectations of life and facing up to 'core' issues." Sound pretentious? One listen proves that Lennox lives up to her claims in spades. Here are 11 wholly -- even infectiously -- accessible, lyrically savvy, and gorgeously wrought pop songs full of spiritual and emotional depth that make for a deeply moving whole. On Bare, soul, adult contemporary, subtle yet unmistakable pop hooks, and an elegant use of electronic soundscapes converge in song styles to create not a tapestry, but a work of such interwoven depth that its only visual counterpart would be a fine Persian carpet. On "Wonderful," the refrain brings a Hall & Oates-styled Philly soul refrain to one of Lennox's trademark ballads constructed from repetitive fingerpicked electric guitar lines, a simple rhythm-machine loop, and gentle synth washes in the background. But it's in the lyrical paradox where the grain of her voice goes straight for a truth and need that the listener almost feels she's peeled off one layer too many -- not hers, ours: "I wanna hold you/And be so held back/Don't wanna need you/But it's where I'm at/Thinkin' about you every day/How come I was made that way...God it makes me so blue/Every time I think about you/All of the heat of my desire/Smokin' like some crazy fire/Come on here/Look at me/Where I stand/Can't you see my heart burning in my hands?/Do you want me? Do you not?" The previous track is a guitar-kissed ballad with limpid choruses that sear with the truth of having believed -- perhaps willingly -- each lie a lover ever told; it is destined to be played in every post-midnight, brokenhearted, half-empty bedroom for decades to come. And though the previous examples come from near the middle of the album, they don't begin to tell the whole story, as each track fits hand in glove with another. It not only can be taken as a whole, it must be, for it rains down on the heart of the listener with such a fierce life force, despite the depleted spirit exhibited in many of the cuts. There are no more words for the ravaged, triumphant Bare -- the truth of its fineness and devastating beauty is in the hearing. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Annie Lennox in the magazine