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The album’s black inlay has a star on its cover and while it is symbolized as a black star, it is pronounced and stylized as Blackstar. David Bowie’s fondness for space began early in his career with songs such as Space Oddity and Life On Mars? Later on, songs like Under Pressure, Heroes, Absolute Beginners, China Girl, Let’s Dance made him a household name. David Bowie sadly passed away on 10 January 2016, two days after he released this his twenty-fifth and final studio album.
While Bowie stayed more in the pop-rock genre during his career, the elements surrounding this Brit artist’s final swan song, shows that he has used jazz collaborators, psychedelic art rock, funk, part electronica with a mid-tempo feel prevailing throughout the album. Blackstar brings on a talented group of musicians from his longtime right-hand man, producer Tony Visconti, to celebrated modern jazz saxophonist Donny McCaslin and percussionist Ben Monden.
This seven-track album greets fans with the opener Blackstar, a neat ballad with an eerie feeling running through. The heavy beat is spacy while his vocals are mysterious. A little bit of fantasy is used in Lazarus that talks about a ghost who drops his cellphone from heaven to the earth below. The striking ballad, Sue (Or in a Season of Crime), tells of a murder mystery. Dollar Days is the confession of a restless soul who could not spend his golden years in a blissful British countryside even if he wanted to: “I’m dying to push their backs against the grain and fool them all again and again.” I Can’t Give Everything Away tells of a tortured mortal who wishes to give all he can, but something stops him from doing so — “Saying no but meaning yes, this is all I ever meant, that’s the message that I sent”; to him singing over and over, “I can’t give everything, I can’t give everything away.” Don’t miss the clever use of synthesizer and the incredible guitar solo.
At the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, Blackstar won Best Alternative Music Album, Best Engineered Album, Neo Classical: Best Recording Package, while the title song won Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song.
A pretty good album from one of the best music artistes of our time. If you have never listened to David Bowie, check out his early career breaking albums first and then follow it up with this brilliant piece of work from an artist who is no more with us, but has left us with an amazing spectrum of music.
Verus Ferreira is a freelance music journalist for over three decades, contributing articles to various newspapers and magazines. He is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book. Besides being a music aficionado, he is also a photo-journalist. He contributes to Musicunplugged.in. Reach him at E: firstname.lastname@example.org or verusferreira.com