Source : Glasswerk

Dave Stewart is a busy man. As well as forming a new band, Super Heavy, with Mick Jagger and others he has recently co-written and co-produced albums for both Joss Stone and Stevie Nicks.

And he also found the time to record this excellent collection of songs in Nashville’s famous Blackbird Studios. The album features a co-write with Bob Dylan, a duet with Stevie Nicks and other tracks with Martina McBride, Colbie Caillat and The Secret Sisters. An impressive list!

The Blackbird Diaries is very different from previous Stewart releases. This is a potent mix of rock and blues with touches of country thrown in to form a platform for some fine vocal performances. And the contrast between Stewart’s powerful voice and those of his female collaborators is a highlight throughout the album.

So Long Ago kicks things off with some meaty guitar riffs and a harmonica part that set the scene for a track that reminisces about the great blues musicians of the past. Stewart then builds on this foundation with Beast Called Fame and Magic In The Blues, both of which are rocking songs with big production and warm vocals.

All Messed Up, featuring country singer Martina McBride, slows things down; the intro featuring a piano with some lovely steel guitar. The duet tells the story of a love gone wrong in a tender and reflective tone. Then Stevie Baby changes the tempo once again. This is more of a pop song and while it is pleasant enough it somehow doesn’t quite fit here.

Cheaper Than Free is another wonderful duet, this time featuring the unmistakable tones of Stevie Nicks. It wouldn’t be out of place on any of Nicks’ solo albums and is perhaps a taste of what her collaboration with Stewart on the forthcoming album In Your Dreams will offer.

The Gypsy Girl and Me, a sprawling six minute bluesy epic that conjures up vivid images throughout, is the centrepiece of the album and its best track. Set in the French town of Arles, where Van Gogh once lived, it tells of a chance meeting that turns into something more significant.

One Way Ticket To The Moon, featuring country pop due The Secret Sisters and Bulletproof Vest with heartfelt vocals from Californian singer Colbie Caillat tell of ways to deal with the world, either by escapism or by creating a shell to hide behind.

Worth The Waiting For is a love song with a difference, telling of longing for a lover who has gone, but with the knowledge that she will return one day. Looking both backwards and forwards it has a gentle feel and the depth of the songwriting is impressive.

The Well starts with an acoustic guitar as Stewart’s deep vocals dominate, Chris Rea like, before the drums and electric guitar come in. There is something dark and foreboding about this fine track, which hints at the depth that we are prepared to go to get what we want.

Country Wine, again with The Secret Sisters, a gentle song with more beautiful steel guitar, is the only out and out country song on the album. Then the closing Can’t Get You Out Of My Head picks the pace up once more to finish the album with an excellent love song that would make an excellent single.

Dave Stewart has created what is quite simply a superb album. Using a supporting cast of talented musicians and singers he has crafted something very special. And towards the end of 2011 when discussions about the album of the year start, this one is sure to figure high on the list.