Annie Lennox: Bare (J-Records)

Bare is an emotional waterfall of thoughts and images flowing into a lake of resolution and mutual conception with any demons that she would have dealt with prior.

If anyone found the task of assigning any sort of music to a particular color in the listener’s mind as being tedious, Annie Lennox has saved us the hassle. It’s not blue, even though it may seemingly be mistaken as such by some, while others may allocate it as a pale tan or gray to reflect the mood of Bare. The work has been done for us, and it’s colorless. It’s not monochrome but more of a diverse statement that Lennox is trying to express by taking any particular color from the record, leaving it up to our imagination. The only thing it’s not, is transparent.

Lennox has used both mischievous and androgynous contradiction with her audience in Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) with the Eurthymics in 1983, she in the sharply dressed suit and cane in the boardroom, and being intentionally and exaggeratedly feminine in 1987 during Savage. In 1992, Diva stunned us with soft yet strong soulfulness, while in 1995, Medusa showed more of Lennox’s reminiscence for herself and ourselves who listened. Bare is an emotional waterfall of thoughts and images flowing into a lake of resolution and mutual conception with any demons that she would have dealt with prior. While some see Bare as something close to mildly dismal, with some time and attention devoted to this record, hopefully those listeners learn to see some elucidation and sweetness inside the tension.

There still lives contradiction. It’s the familiar trick of the tongue-in-cheek happy or unhappy song title when the song itself displays a completely opposite mood from what the title originally suggests, such as “A Thousand Beautiful Things”: “Every day I write the list of reasons why I still believe they do exist,/a thousand beautiful things, and even though it’s hard to see the glass is full and not half empty.”

Bare reminds mature listeners of a time when pop music neither had nor needed overproduction and publicity like the radio of today. It’s tastefully understated with a heart-wrenching melody along the lines of what Carole King offered us with Tapestry. “Honestly” is a song perfect for sunrise or sunset, whichever you happen to be awake for: “Fools like me get so easily taken and fools like me can be so mistaken.”

Lennox has never had problems with self-assurance throughout the years, even if it seems as if her heart was broken or there was some sort of absence of intimacy. Bare touches upon some more overcast skies of gray, but the significance of the songs tells a story of a woman emerging from the wreckage of the bleak to tell a story of personal triumph. This is the same triumph that still allows her to resonate as if she is wearing the choir robe at church even though she prefers to wear leather. She knows what choice suits her best for any particular moment.

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