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 January 1, 2010 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.
Most artists treat Christmas albums as toss-offs; something to get into the marketplace and have on the shelf when punters come in and snap up the holiday offerings. There is usually little forethought, production and arrangements are entrusted to studio stalwarts who paint by numbers. Annie Lennox doesn't fit this mold remotely. She considered a Christmas Cornucopia with all the intuitive care and devotion her other studio albums reflect. Lennox spent much of her youth singing in choirs, and that is reflected in both the song selection (all but one of these she sang as a child in choir) and arrangements. Working once more with producer Mike Stevens (who also helmed the sessions for her last offering, 2007's Songs of Mass Destruction), Lennox recorded many of the choral vocals herself by overdubbing. The pair did employ a 30-piece orchestra; they also recorded the African Children's Choir who are prominently featured throughout, especially on "The Holly and the Ivy" and the French carol "Il Est de le Divin Enfant." Textures and atmospheres are the name of the game in these interpretations, and they're employed in unusual ways: note the Middle Eastern rhythms and modalities on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that collide -- albeit harmoniously -- with Celtic pipe, flute, and accordion sounds. It's a fantastic track, though it does engender a minor complaint: why on earth would a vocalist of Lennox's caliber use Auto-Tune even momentarily? Other standouts here include the majestic "The Holly and the Ivy," the sparse instrumentation on "In the Bleak Midwinter," and the the dramatic darkness in the obscure carol "Lullay Lullay" that tells the Christian story of King Herod's infanticide in trying to eliminate the threat posed by the Christ child. "Silent Night" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" are given wonderful arrangements and sung with a sincerity approaching absolute devotion, especially with the African Children's Choir underscoring Lennox's voice. The lone original here, "Universal Child," is the lead single (proceeds are being donated to the Annie Lennox Foundation); it's a beautifully written and arranged pop song, delivered soulfully and enigmatically; it is worth the price of the album itself. A Christmas Cornucopia is a real contender for best Christmas album of 2010. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
Annie Lennox in the magazine
A Christmas Cornucopia!
Released in 2010, this Christmas album by the famous Eurythmics singer is back in 2020 as a remastered version. For an English-speaking pop singer, it is common to offer a "Christmas album" once in their career. But, true to her temperament, Annie Lennox wanted to shake up the often traditional a...