Annie Lennox has only put out seven studio albums and one greatest hits album to date, but she has concentrated on quality rather than quantity. Since she left her old label Sony in 2010, her music has become more experimental, serving to please her and not the bosses at her old label. She has proved to be a powerful songwriter, but often loves to cover other artists songs. Here are Annie Lennox’s albums ranked for your listening pleasure.
# 8 – Nostalgia
This time, for a covers album, Annie Lennox goes full-on Rod Stewart in tackling the Great American Songbook. For a performer best known for the synthesizer-heavy Eurythmics, not a single synth can be heard here. She goes with a band of conventional instruments, including string arrangements. It’s also odd that the unconventional androgynous figure that shocked viewers back in the early 1980s would do such a conventional album. It is a live performance, which gives it a little edge. Unfortunately, most of the album is conventional. The only thing going for it is Annie Lennox’s soaring, magnificent voice. It can be odd hearing a Scottish singer sing “Georgia on My Mind”, but that’s the power of Ray Charles for you. The album came out in 2014 along with a film of the concert. It went to number 1 on the jazz charts and a Grammy nomination.
# 7 – A Christmas Cornucopia
The first album Annie Lennox did for her new label Island must have raised eyebrows. A Christmas album? It seems inevitable that all pop stars eventually do a Christmas album, but Annie Lennox put a sinister twist on traditional Christmas carols. Don’t let that faux-Victorian Christmas card cover fool you. This has some dark-sounding stuff, with tight, eerie harmonies and eclectic electronic music as accompaniment. All of the carols are traditional works – no Santa Claus or his red-nosed reindeer here. It does contain one original song, “Universal Child”, which features the African Children’s Choir. First released in 2010, it was re-released in 2020. The promotional video for “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is oddly reminiscent of Tom Waits’ “In the Neighborhood.”
# 6 – Lepidoptera
Annie Lennox goes really unconventional here with an entirely instrumental EP of her playing the piano. The echoes in between notes sound like instruments in and of themselves. If you dig Philip Glass, you’re going to love this. It shows you how Annie Lennox is not just great with lyrics, but with haunting tunes. This was not released on any label but was made to accompany her art exhibit, “Now I Let You Go” at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibition’s star attraction was a huge 65-foot-long mound of dirt with 250 objects like a sewing machine and children’s shoes scattered about it. Lepidoptera is the taxonomic name for the butterfly family. It came out in 2019.
# 5 – The Annie Lennox Collection
All successful artists face the inevitable – a greatest hits album. Annie Lennox faced this challenge gracefully, adding two new songs, both covers, “Shining Light” by Tim Wheeler and “Pattern of My Life” (originally entitled “Closer Now”) by Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley, Richard Hughes and James Sanger. It contains the usual suspects like “Why” and “Walking on Broken Glass.” Also contains the two songs previously only contained on movie soundtracks, “Love Song for a Vampire” and “Into the West.” Various special editions came out, including two acoustic versions of songs in at iTunes and live tracks on the limited edition disc, including a diet with Alicia Keys of REM’s “Everybody Hurts.” All of the versions came out in 2009. It debuted in the UK at number two but only reached 34 in the US.
# 4 – Bare
Annie Lennox took a few years off to raise a family. Bare heralded her return to music. It is softer than her other albums, with more of an ethereal, smooth jazz feel. Some of the reviews when it came out in 2003 were absolutely savage, but this is an album that grows on you over time. It’s one of those albums that’s great to have on ion the background when you’re doing housework or paperwork. It also contains one of her best songs ever, “Pavement Cracks.” Also recommended is “Wonderful”, with its driving, piano-based chorus. Despite the reviews, it sold well, reaching number 3 in the UK and number 4 in the US. It received a Grammy nomination.
# 3 – Medusa
Annie Lennox’s second album was her first covers album. Sony had reportedly pressed her for a new album to quickly follow up on the heels of the successful Diva but Annie Lennox had no new material to offer, hence the covers album. However, in the liner notes, Annie Lennox describes this as a “labor of love.” She picks a wide variety of songs from the well-known like “Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Take Me to the River” to the absolutely obscure, “No More I Love Yous” and “Thin Line Between Love and Hate.” The songs are given new arrangements, as well as Annie Lennox’s powerfully layered background vocals to emphasize her stellar voice. Although not critically well-received, Medusa would earn a Best Pop Album Grammy nomination and the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. The album sold well, at over six million to date since it appeared in 1995.
# 2 – Songs of Mass Destruction
This is one of those albums that really should have been more popular than it was, although it did crack the Top 10 lists on both sides of the Atlantic. It not only has some really challenging lyrics but is far more energetic overall than her previous works. Some songs, like “Colored Bedspread”, clearly sound like a Eurythmics tune. She changed producers with this album, and so that might explain the return to a more electronic pop sound. This contains “Sing”, a collaboration with 23 other female singers to help raise money to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. The album came out in 2007 in several versions.
# 1 – Diva
Would Annie Lennox be as successful without Eurythmics partner Dave Stewart? That was the question Eurythmics fans had back in 1992 when Diva first appeared. Annie Lennox answered the question with a resounding, “Yes!” Lushly arranged and emotional to the max, this album would earn hit singles, many Grammy nominations and the Best Album of the Year award at the Brits. Hits include the wrenching, “Why”, the catchy “Walking on Broken Glass” and her personal anthem of freedom, “Little Bird.” Back then, CDs contained an extra song not found on vinyl or cassette. That song was a sarcastically done cover version of the 1933 hit “Keep Young and Beautiful”, where girls are urged that it is their duty to be young and beautiful. It was a sly wink not only at society’s treatment of women, but the music industry’s treatment of female artists. This blending of art and emotions earns this the top of out Annie Lennox albums ranked list.
Annie Lennox Albums Ranked article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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