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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Jazz - Released October 21, 2014 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.
Annie Lennox's 2014 covers collection, Nostalgia, finds the former Eurythmics vocalist soulfully interpreting various pop, jazz, and R&B standards. In many ways, Nostalgia works as a companion piece to her similarly inventive 2010 album, the holiday-themed Christmas Cornucopia. As with that album, Lennox eschews predictability by picking an unexpected set of songs and producing them with detailed care. While Nostalgia certainly fits nicely next to any number of other standards albums by veteran pop stars, it does nothing to diminish Lennox's distinctive style. On the contrary, working with producer Mike Stevens, Lennox has crafted an album that brings to mind the sophisticated, contemporary sound of her original studio releases while allowing her to revel in the grand popular song tradition. Moving between evocative piano accompaniment, orchestral numbers, moody synthesizer arrangements, and even some rollicking small-group swing, Lennox takes a theatrical -- yet always personal -- approach to each song, finding endlessly interesting juxtapositions and stylistic combinations to explore. She references Miles Davis' plaintive take on the Porgy and Bess classic "Summertime," tenderly evinces a combination of Billie Holiday and Sade on "Strange Fruit," and draws on both Aretha Franklin and Screamin' Jay Hawkins for "I Put a Spell on You." Elsewhere, tracks like "I Cover the Waterfront" and "Mood Indigo" bring to mind similar recordings from Carole King and Bryan Ferry. Ultimately, even without Nostalgia's impeccable production, in the end it's Lennox's burnished, resonant vocals that steal the focus here, and just like the songs she's picked, their beauty will likely stand the test of time. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Annie Lennox in the magazine