Turn That Noise Down - Annie Lennox

So many well-known albums turn 30 this year and Steve Taylor-Bryant and Susan Omand travel back to 1992 to revisit some of the sounds of their youth that made parents shout "Turn that noise down!" This week, Susan goes all Diva...

As you’ll know, since I bang on about it often enough, there are very few female pop singing voices that I actively enjoy listening to. Annie Lennox is one of them and Diva is the first, and probably my favourite, of her solo albums and one that I listen to a lot. With half the songs on the album released as singles, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have heard some of these but it’s worth a quick track by track run-through anyway.

First up is Why and immediately I feel at home, not least because Ms Lennox is a fellow Aberdonian. No, I mean more that it’s got a beautifully laid-back sound with nothing unexpected in the backing, the synth works with the light percussion, which works with the plinky harp thing, all topped off with that glorious voice. It’s comfort food for the ears for me. Then we get to the other “biggie” single on the album and an utter ear-worm of a hooky intro that always takes me ages to get rid of. Again, everything just works with this song, it’s proper pop with happy clappy drums, rich strings and a very singable chorus. Precious is a funky change of pace, very Stevie Wonder backing, just with added synth, and the close harmony in the chorus gives it an almost gospel feel. Legend in My Living Room is one of those songs that should have been a bigger hit than it was, given that it was co-written by the keyboardist of Jethro Tull, and I love the industrial sound of the percussion that echoes the working-class background of the subject of the song, a singer trying to break into the bigtime. Cold is a stunning way to round off the first side of the album, slow, bluesy and a beautiful showcase for a beautiful voice.

Money Can’t Buy It opens side two and, to be honest, is one of the weaker tracks on the album for me. The swooshy synths and hefty guitar overpower everything else for me. By contrast, Little Bird makes fantastic use of the synth sound in a happy little bop, so reminiscent of early Eurythmics, that lets the Lennox larynx take centre stage. Primitive is a change of pace again, with African influences to the music, and just gorgeous with such sad lyrics that still hit me every time:

The sun has set
All red and primitive above our heads
Blood stained on an ageless sky
Wipe your tears and let the salt stains dry
Let them all run dry

The piano flourish at the start of Stay With Me is always a surprise and the instrumentation throughout, pan-pipes notwithstanding, is really fascinating. This song is another co-authorship, this time with the wonderful Scottish band The Blue Nile and you can really hear that late 80s “Glasgow sound” influence here (think the Wets and Deacon Blue and you’ll understand what I mean). The vinyl album rounds out with The Gift, another late night sounding song with subtle piano sparkling over the clouds of synth in a downbeat, melancholy, beauteous wallow. That wallow, though, is lifted by the final “bonus” track on the CD and a charmingly crackly cover of the 1930s movie classic Keep Young and Beautiful. Boo be doo indeed.

So, yeah. Even thirty years on, anything Annie Lennox does is all right by me. Even if it does take me ages to get rid of the ear-worm.

Image - Amazon

Powered by Blogger.