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Dave Stewart - The Blackbird Diaries

  by Lisa Torem

published: 8 / 6 / 2011

Dave Stewart - The Blackbird Diaries
Label: Proper Records
Format: CD


Compulsive latest album from Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart, which features duets with Stevie Nicks, Martina McBride and the Secret Sisters.

‘The Blackbird Diaries’ is the new release from Eurythmics co-founder and singer/songwriter/producer Dave Stewart. It was mixed by John McBride at Nashville’s Blackbird Studio. Stewart’s 30 year career has resulted in a BRITS Lifetime Achievement Award with Eurythmics colleague Annie Lennox. Together, they created popular tunes such as ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ and ‘Here Comes the Rain Again.’ In addition, his legacy includes performing and co-writing with Mick Jagger, Bono, Tom Petty, and Gwen Stefani, BB King, U2, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan. The album features duets with Stevie Nicks, Martina McBride, Colbie Caillat and the Secret Sisters. ‘The Blackbird Diaries’ entourage also includes guitarist Tom Bukovac, drummer Chad Cromwell, bassist Michael Rhodes, steel guitarist Dan Dugmore and Mike Rojas on piano. Recently, Stewart played a major role in Stevie Nick’s current release, ‘In Your Dreams’ – he co-produced and co-wrote the material and also agreed to be her special guest at New York’s Webster Hall in May. For some artists, however, even having the best of the best does not guarantee a solid work. But, in this case, thanks to Stewart’s incredible songwriting and natural ear, it did. ‘So Long Ago’ is the first tune which, with it’s country rush, and intelligent lyrics, foreshadows the essence of this masterpiece. "I remember Jessie May/I remember Mississippi John Hurt, his fingernails all covered in dirt" leads off the lyrical magic, and, by the time you get to the payoff of "I could feel it in my bones/I just needed to see past the Rolling Stones" you are hooked. This hybrid of no-nonsense storytelling imbued with a splash of satire and uber-twang definitely satisfies. Stewart’s casual tone makes great grist for the solidly clever, ‘Beast Called Fame’ which is kind of a “you and me, against the world, baby” and he really nails the theme. ‘Magic in the Blues’ is a more sentimental piece with more moving narrative: "I was feeling empty-hearted/Walked around that house all day/Looking for a home," he sings, hesitantly. When he then exhales the line, "Picked up my mother’s wedding ring/The one she tried to lose," you realize he’s fully invested in the forlorn tale. It is a superb song with heart and guts that not only swings, but also sashays. ‘All Messed Up’ is an honest and gripping, string-laden duet with the talented Martina McBride. The soulful ballad,‘Stevie Baby’ starts: "I wore leather, you wore lace" and the contrasts become even more accentuated as the riveting progression gathers force. Stevie Nicks is the backbone of ‘Cheaper Than Free’, although she and Stewart both bring the simple, heart-felt lyrics to life. ‘The Gypsy Girl and Me’ mentions the phrase, ‘parlez vous francais’ and you know you’re in for a movable, musical feast. "Her face was like a Renoir/She even had red hair" continues the detailed description for this tune and the following one, ‘One Way Ticket to the Moon’ Stewart is assisted by the Secret Sisters, a versatile-voiced wonder. The latter song is the quintessential dreamer’s soliloquy; awash with whimsy and optimism. Life gets astoundingly even better as the album moves on. ‘Bulletproof Vest’ is adorned by the emotive Colbie Caillat. "What are you trying to hide/You won’t let me inside’ shatters the glass. Brilliant metaphors, humour and warm vocals make this one an unparalleled hit ‘Worth the Waiting For’ recalls a Sam Cook sensibility. In contrast, ‘The Well’ is braced with levity and textured, giddy-up, guitar rhythms, while the lyrics are cloaked in Johnny Cash. ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ may be the 13th cut, but, no way is that the unlucky number. ‘The Blackbird Diaries’ has got all the ingredients needed for a delicious casserole; it just needs some hungry folks to wash up and get ready for dinner. They’ll be begging for seconds.

Track Listing:-
1 So Long Ago
2 Beast Called Fame
3 Magic In The Blues
4 All Messed Up
5 Stevie Baby
6 Cheaper Than Free
7 The Gypsy Girl And Me
8 One Way Ticket To The Moon
9 Bulletproof Vest
10 Worth The Waiting For
11 The Well
12 Country Wine
13 Can't Get You Out Of My Head

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