The Ghosts in Her Machine
Hicklin, Aaron, Out
ANNIE LENNOX IS STILL HURTING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS.
Annie Lennox's fourth solo album may not be her best (that accolade belongs to 1992's Diva), but thanks in part to "Sing," her muchballyhooed collaboration with Madonna, Céline Dion, and Gladys Knight, among others, it may be her most ambitious. The opener, "Dark Road," and its immediate successors ("Love Is Blind," "Smithereens," and "Ghosts in My Machine") represent some of her strongest offerings to date, her brooding introspection tempered with spry, robust melodies. In one of her few interviews for the U.S. press for this album, the 52-year-old singer discusses her process, the problem with men, and why we need to care more about Africa.
Out: With all your albums I often feel that I'm in one of your therapy sesslons. At one point you actually sing, "Come and take this pain away."
Annie Lennox: I think everyone struggles with pain, and one way of coming to terms with it is by transforming it into something of beauty and power.
Maybe that's why it often seems that you're writing songs for yourself, as an exercise in catharsis.
I can't write a song for an audience because I don't know how to do that, so it's an expression of one's innermost feelings, but at the same time, it's universal. Life is paradoxical. I can be intensely private and incredibly open at the same time, and I can also be very straightforward and very complicated. It's not that people are hypocrites, it's that we contain these contradictions.
In contrast to your last album, Bare, the melodies seem more upbeat even while the lyrics are so Introspective.
It's weird, but I started to discover that I had another aspect to my voice that I hadn't encountered before, and it was kind of more open or raw. It made me feel that I was almost channeling deep Mississippi Delta blues, or some kind of spiritual place, very black. I'm white and I'm not pretending, but that's the place where I feel most authentic.
Several of the new songs are addressed to women. Do you think men are the problem in our society?
Yes, I do. There's something really odd about the testosterone-driven need to go to war, and fight, and the ego that's so insatiable, so power-hungry, and yet so insecure. …