Songs of Mass Destruction

When an artist reaches a certain point in her career it’s easy enough to listen to her new release with old ears. Annie Lennox has been recording since the late 1970’s. She hit mega-success when her music went global as part of the duo, Eurythmics. Her voice is immediately identifiable and so is her sound – but what sound? Do we reference the 80’s electronic-driven pop of Eurythmics-era songs or the mellow heart-broken ballads of the solo Lennox? Or are we talking about the ethereal touch of the Oscar winning songwriter?

Lennox incorporates all those elements on Songs of Mass Destruction. You’ll also hear how those influences have evolved and been integrated into a mature pop-ballad style. Lennox offers a healthy dose of beat-heavy dance numbers but balances them with those sad and lovely ballads that have powered her solo career. Some of these songs ring with memories of Lennox’s earlier work. “Womankind” is a follow-up on “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves,” although tempered with years of wisdom and, perhaps, disappointment. “Dark Road,” “Fingernail Moon” and “Big Sky” continues Lennox’s investigation of conflict in personal relationships. This theme permeates the record and no one is better at making loneliness sound like something to dance about, particularly on “Love Is Blind.”

As for the title, Lennox confesses that it was a swipe at the politics surrounding the Iraq war and, although she is passionate about politics, she focuses on the personal wars of relationships (although “Lost” can be read either as personal or real war). She is overtly political about her personal passion – the fight against HIV/AIDS – on “Sing.” The song is directed at women and features an amazing line-up of backing vocals from – to name a few – Madonna, Celine Dion, Bonnie Raiit, Melissa Etheridge, Angelique Kidjo, Beth Orton, Faith Hill, Gladys Knight, Shakira, Joss Stone, k.d. lang, Martha Wainwright, K.T. Tunstall and a dozen or more women. It’s one of the high points on the album. Vocally Lennox continues to grow stronger as a vocalist and veteran producer Glen Ballard knows how to capture the essence of this masterful artist.

Annie Lennox is one of modern music’s most influential and successful women. She is also a twice-divorced mother of two teenage daughters who has seen her share of tough times. Although her lyrics often deal with loneliness and pain there is something hopeful in her delivery. Lennox claims to be growing more hopeful as she ages. I’m sure her fans will love her current offering. Behind the silver lining there is something to please all of her fans.

Rosemary Welsch, WYEP Afternoon Mix host