Annie Lennox, “Summertime” from Nostalgia (2014): One Track Mind

Share this:

This is the kind of richly textured, reminiscent version of “Summertime” required as the first cool fingers of fall close around you. Annie Lennox sings every one of DuBose Heyward’s darkly evocative syllables with the trembling, first-take emotion of a leaf trying so desperately not to fall.

As old as this aria is, having risen to fame as part of the 1935 Gerswhin opera Porgy and Bess, it seems to never lose its emotional power — its ability to paint a portrait of rueful melancholy. And Lennox was born to it, something more than hinted at even in her days as a big-voiced synthpop chanteuse with the Eurythmics.

Nostalgia, due October 21, 2014 via Blue Note, is filled with these kind of sensative reimagings of classic 20th century fare — much of it similarly shopworn, and all of it similarly enlivened in Lennox’s hands. Of particular note are her updates of “Strange Fruit” and “God Bless the Child,” from the Billie Holiday songbook. She also finds new corners of scarifying wonder in “I Put a Spell On You,” by Screaming Jay Hawkins.

Each of them arrives with plenty of baggage, having made a journey of decades. But, as with the finely tuned, perfectly languid “Summertime,” Annie Lennox finds new corners of meaning — often in places you’d have never guessed were still left unexplored.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close