David Bowie - The Next Day

David Bowie – The Next Day (Columbia)

He’s been called Ziggy.  He’s been called the Thin White Duke.  But, for the last decade, most have called David Bowie something along the lines of The Invisible Man.  Bowie surprised the masses when he gave the world a very thoughtful present for his 66th birthday when he unexpectedly announced that he would be releasing a new album – his 27th – called The Next Day.  It has been 10 years since Bowie released any new music and it sounds like he has been thinking about this record a lot during that time. 

Bowie worked with long-time producer and collaborator Tony Visconti on The Next Day.  Beginning in 1969 with Space Oddity, the pair has been creating memorable music for over 40 years now.  Work began on the new record over 2 years ago and it turns out both men are capable of keeping a secret.  The record was written and demoed during very sporadic recording sessions with a rhythm section consisting of Sterling Campbell on drums and Visconti playing bass.  Bowie handled the keyboards alongside work-horse guitarist Gerry Leonard.

The album opens with the title track which grabs you right away with its powerful beat and wailing guitars. Because of its immediate impact, it seems intentional to put this as the first track. Other than “The Next Day”, there are very compelling songs on the record. An album highlight, “Where Are We Now”, is a slow, but beautiful song delivered by Bowie in a way where you can hear all 66 of his years: soft almost raspy and very fragile. However, the fragility doesn’t appear very often on the rest of the release. Another great addition is “Dirty Boys”, a dark horn infused song that he could he borrowed right off of Tom Waits Rain Dogs. Following that is “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” where Bowie sounds a little angrier than the rest of the album. 

He could have just retired and never released another album again, but it’s clear he has something to say. However, it’s a complicated message as this is not a one-time-listen record. Most of the songs on The Next Day are full and contain catchy hooks, but it’s also a layered recording that takes effort to make a connection with. The effort is well worth it as you will be rewarded with a fascinating listen.

 

-- Joey Spehar & Cindy Howes (The Morning Mix)