Critics are giving the thumbs up to the latest work from David Bowie, a new album titled Blackstar. Britain’s Guardian newspaper called the album “a spellbinding break with (Bowie’s) past.” Rolling Stone magazine wrote that the “arty, unsettling ‘Blackstar’ is Bowie’s best anti-pop masterpiece since the Seventies.” Some are calling the album the first entry in the race for the best album of 2016.
Blackstar is the product of a collaboration with jazz band the Donny McCaslin Quartet. McCaslin’s saxophone is the lead instrument, complementing the warmth of Jason Lindner’s Wurlitzer organ. Guitars are used sparingly throughout the album. Tom Elmhirst, America’s most sought-after sound mixer, also worked on the album. The album was released on Friday, which also happened to be Bowie’s 69th birthday.
Blackstar, co-produced by Bowie’s long-time collaborator Tony Visconti, features only seven songs. The album is mainly jazz, but also contains industrial rock, soulful balladeering, airy folk-pop, and a little bit of hip-hop. Three of the seven songs have already been released as singles.
The jaw-dropping 10-minute title track Blackstar is very long, very dark and very strange. The song has been described as a ballad of sinister beauty. Music video and commercial director Johan Renck worked on the film for the track. The song has reached four million people through its powerful video.
David Bowie has had a long and innovative career. Born David Jones, Bowie rose to fame with 1969’s “Space Oddity” and through his intense alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Over the years, Bowie has brought us folk, glam, soul and even Krautrock. Blackstar is Bowie’s 28th studio album.
The singer, songwriter, actor and artist is returning to the music scene after 2013’s chart-topping “The Next Day,” released after a 10-year hiatus. The singer has kept a low profile after undergoing emergency heart surgery in 2004. His last live performance was at a New York charity concert in 2006. He hasn’t given an interview in more than a decade.
People who worked with David Bowie on the album say that reports of his failing health have been overblown. Sources involved with the project say that recording sessions lasted roughly seven hours and Bowie’s voice remained strong throughout the process. During his downtime, Bowie reportedly worked on the Off-Broadway musical Lazarus, a project in which he is intimately involved in every aspect of production.