Dave Stewart - The Blackbird Diaries
I think it's only recently that guitarist Dave Stewart has really managed to step out of Annie Lennox's shadow and get the credit he deserves for the success of the Eurythmics. On August 23rd he takes another huge step forward with the release of his new solo album The Blackbird Diaries.
The album is definitely Stewart's dalliance into country music, and he proves quite capable at it. From the gritty album opener "So Long Ago", you have a sense that he will surprise you with his ability to channel the spirit of the genre.
The album highlight is definitely "Magic In the Blues". The song begins as a twangy country blues number, eventually ending in an all out hoedown. The dusty and mischievous "The Gypsy Girl and Me" is another standout.
"Stevie Baby" is a misstep. The song is a little too close to Keith Urban country pop to be taken too seriously.
On occasion Stewart veers off slightly into other styles. For example, "Beast Called Fame" is the slick Englishman's take on the blues that one would expect from someone like Clapton. "One Way Ticket To the Moon" is more suited to a smokey lounge than a sawdust covered saloon floor.
There's no shortage of big name guests on the album either. The degree to which the collaborations succeed varies however. On the positive side is Stewart's lovely duet with Martina McBride, "All Messed Up", that just keeps getting bigger and more forceful.
On the negative, or at least neutral side, is "Cheaper Than Free", the effort that features Stevie Nicks. It may just be that I've always found Nicks' voice to be annoying, but this is one of the few songs on the record that left me completely unmoved. Colbie Caillat's presence on any song makes it schmaltzy, and "Bulletproof Vest" is no exception.
Clocking in at thirteen tracks, The Blackbird Diaries could probably use with a little bit of editing. There are a handful of tracks that are not as strong as the rest of the album, and that hurts it as a complete work. However, there is plenty of rewarding music her that you'll be pleased you spent time with.
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