At this stage in her legendary career, Eurythmics vocalist Annie Lennox has nothing to prove to anyone. She’s sold countless millions of albums, has created a vital catalog of classic recordings both as a solo artist and with her partner Dave Stewart, she’s won just about every award imaginable, and she’s become a passionate and tireless crusader for the eradication of HIV/AIDS.
For her new album, her first non-holiday collection since 2007’s excellent Songs of Mass Destruction, Lennox decided to experiment with a style she’d never tackled before, and she pulls it off with her usual grace and elegance. Nostalgia is true to its name – the album is a collection of Lennox’s interpretations of American jazz standards from the ‘30s and ‘40s. Her voice is in fine form as she delivers moving renditions of essential classics such as “God Bless The Child,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “I Put a Spell on You,” and the chilling “Strange Fruit.”
One may wonder why some of these songs need yet another interpretation – after all, most of them have been covered countless times – but one listen to her jaw-dropping rendition of “Summertime” and you’ll understand. These songs are essential pieces of music history that were originally recorded some eighty years in the distant past, yet Lennox manages to coax fresh life into even the most well-worn old chestnuts with resplendent vocal performances and exquisite musical accompaniments.
This isn’t some cheap, hastily thrown-together oldies collection, or a slow descent into maudlin easy-listening. Lennox approaches these songs with real warmth and reverence, and the result is a magnificent listening experience.