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Ambient/New Age - Released November 20, 2020 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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CD£13.49

Ambient/New Age - Released November 20, 2020 | 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
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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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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

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Annie Lennox in the magazine
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