Thursday, January 14, 2016

Album Review: Blackstar, by David Bowie

Two days before his unfortunate passing earlier this week, pop sensation David Bowie left us with a gift that was his 26th and final album; a peculiar gem named Blackstar released on the singer's 69th birthday.

What can I honestly say about this album? It really is something else entirely. Blackstar is one of Bowie's most progressive and out there albums. I know he was always one for innovation, but this kind of takes the cake. It blends the most odd parts of avant-garde and jazz music and takes them to a whole other level. This is definitely not an album for those who love the David Bowie who made straight up easy to follow pop music.

When put into the context of Bowie's recent passing from liver cancer after an 18 month battle, listening to Blackstar's lyrics a bit closer is a rather surreal experience. You could tell he knew he was on his way out. There are hints of it all over the songs; especially in the song Lazarus, Dollar Days, I Can't Give Everything Away, etc. Hell, Lazarus's opening lyric is: "Look up here, I'm in Heaven.". I Can't Give Everything Away has a lyric that goes: “I know something is very wrong / The pulse returns the prodigal sons / The blackout hearts, the flowered news, with skull designs upon my shoes.” If that doesn't tell you what's going through his head, I don't know what will

Musically Blackstar is soft and relaxing, yet at the same time that quietness has a sense of tension that tugs at the back of your mind and works its way forward throughout the entire album. In a way that was more than likely what Bowie meant to convey. It was probably the way things were going in his head during his final days while writing and recording the album.

Blackstar is full of odd rhythms, dissonance, harmonies that make the hairs on your arms and neck stand up, etc. Honestly, you can tell that for this album Bowie was doing just what he wanted to do by being creative and not caring about what people expected from him.

There is not much in the way of any followable melody, but if you can separate yourself from the notions of what you feel David Bowie music is supposed to be you will still find merits in Blackstar.

Blackstar is a very suitable farewell from one hell of a magnificent man who changed so much in the world of entertainment and even every day life during his lifetime. It's not a traditional sounding pop album, but it wasn't meant to be. If there is one thing that Bowie was always known for it was being an innovator and well ahead of his time. Blackstar was his way of doing that for us one last time. We'll probably still be working on catching up with him for the next few decades. That said, I would recommend checking this album out. Listen to it with headphones multiple times so you can really get the full experience of it.

Blackstar, by David Bowie receives 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Blackstar
2. Tis a Pity She Was a Whore
3. Lazarus
4. Sue (Or in Season of a Crime)
5. Girl Loves Me
6. Dollar Days
7. I Can't Give Everything Away

Buy the album on Amazon:

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