Bare
by Annie Lennox, pop (2003)
RCA/BMG, ASIN B000089RVU


I find Annie Lennox's words at the back of the CD really pretentious and I almost didn't purchase this CD because of that. Still, this is Ms Lennox's CD of original tracks in eleven years. Unlike Diva, Bare sees a more stripped-down Ms Lennox, lyrically, with the songs here often melancholic and bitter in nature. With eleven songs all about pragmatism, resignation, and heartbreak, Bare is not a CD to play unless one wants a little catharsis in life.

Her voice is still in top condition, still imbued with this charismatic quality that leads me to believe that even when Lennox is singing a thousand different songs about how her life sucks, she always has the strength to overcome any hurdles life throws at her. I always marvel at how her voice always manage to tell a better and more vivid story than her lyrics. She doesn't just sing about despair - the subtle nuances in her voice and enunciation drive home her heartbreak in tiny but painful stabs in the heart. It is this voice that makes tracks like Pavement Cracks and The Hurting Time work beautifully. Honestly is like a throwback to Eurythmics' early days, but the uplifting melody is deceptive - Lennox is singing about the people who have lied and used her in her life. Even a track like Wonderful is about Ms Lennox loving a man who doesn't reciprocate. Bitter Pill is the closest track to a club anthem when we've done a killer remix on it, but seriously, she's singing about "Laid myself upon you/Underneath your feet/Didn't that look sweet?" Oh well, maybe S&M clubs can make this one their anthem.

Don't be fooled into thinking that this CD is musically stripped-down: the lyrics may be, compared to the verbal diarrhea of Diva, but the songs are all radio-friendly productions with great hooks that sink in deep. Bitter Pill is a good dance track, and while The Saddest Song I've Got sounds like a depressing suicide anthem, its also a haunting ballad that sends lovely chills all over me.

While the relentless depression permeating the CD can be trying at times, sometimes making me wonder just how sad I really must be to enjoy this album so much, I do enjoy Bare nonetheless. Bare may be a little too much of a soap opera for forty-something divorcees at times, but it's always a pleasure to listen to well-done music from an artist who writes from the heart - a rarity indeed in today's increasingly fabricated music scene.

Rating: 93


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