Music

Album review | Pop

Annie Lennox ‘Nostalgia’

Annie Lennox’s left-turn foray into jazz and pop standards starts promisingly enough. After a dreamy snippet of composer Sammy Fain singing from 1930, Lennox sinks her teeth into the unabashed romance of “Memphis in June,” followed by “Georgia on My Mind.” She and co-producer Mike Stevens keep the production mostly clean and warm, though the song selection is sometimes curious. “Strange Fruit” and “God Bless the Child,” both associated with Billie Holiday, are bold choices, but Lennox is out of her depth as she tries to burrow deep into their pathos. She fares better on “I Put a Spell on You,” whose depravity suits her guttural rendition; she sounds almost as deranged as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, who made it famous. The latter half of “Nostalgia” sags. Blame the strings: They coat “The Nearness of You” and “You Belong to Me” in saccharine goo that saps the soul from Lennox’s voice. Her singing, by the way, is resolutely fine from start to stop, muscular and knowing on “Summertime” and then soft and satiny on “September in the Rain.” It turns out Lennox’s idea of nostalgia still sounds pretty fresh. (Out now)

James Reed


ESSENTIAL “I Put a Spell on You”

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