In the ‘80s — back when MTV actually played music videos — the riveting voice and androgynous look of Annie Lennox was a constant. But unlike more frivolous artists of that era, behind the mysterious image stood the talent and confidence of a truly gifted performer and songwriter. Nostalgia, Lennox’s sixth solo album since her days with Eurythmics, finds her voice still in fine form as she tackles songs of the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. Lennox has already shown she’s an adept interpreter of other writers’ songs with recordings of Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” and Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” Now she goes back further in time, offering chilling versions of several songs heavily identified with Billie Holiday such as “Strange Fruit” and “God Bless the Child.” She also turns in excellent renditions of songs memorably recorded by Ella Fitzgerald (the Gershwin classic “Summertime”) and Jo Stafford (the World War II–era anthem “You Belong To Me”) among many others. Most of the arrangements are stripped down, built primarily around piano and Lennox’s velvety voice — with occasional flute, percussion or spare strings where appropriate. It’s a testament to her understanding of these songs that her versions are all well worth listening to — even those we’ve heard many times before.
Last modified: July 30, 2018