album reviews

Annie Lennox
Songs of Mass Destruction
Arista (2007)

Annie Lennox hasn't had a particularly prolific solo career -- "Songs of Mass Destruction" is only her fourth album since the Eurythmics broke up in 1990 -- but her heavenly voice remains easily recognizable even without market oversaturation. "Dark Road" resounds with such ethereal effortlessness that its underlying solitude is laced with more forward-looking faith than with despair. The funereal "Lost" juxtaposes the melancholy of her rich alto in the verses with choruses that layer soaring, haunting cries of "We're lost, we're lost."

Lennox seems unafraid of risks, from her guttural frustration in "Love Is Blind" to the retro sound of "Coloured Bedspread," with its nod to the Eurythmics' synth-pop. Even though "Mass Destruction" focuses mostly on personal struggles, Lennox does not shy away from showing her political passions. "Sing" is an AIDS-awareness anthem for which Lennox assembled a 23-woman choir that features an unlikely spectrum of collaborators, including Portishead's Beth Gibbons and Belle & Sebastian's Isobel Campbell to Celine Dion and Fergie. While those backing singers add an elegant urgency, the song's highlight is its first verse: With only a simple piano line behind her, Lennox's chilling voice soars, allowing her to capture the plight of the African AIDS crisis with both compassion and -- her strongest trait -- grace.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 19 October 2007, Page WE15
.: Songs of Mass Destruction on