Annie Lennox has hinted that her new collection of jazz, blues and soul standards might be her last album.
Speaking at an onstage Q&A in London Monday night to launch Nostalgia, her sixth solo album, the former Eurythmics singer admitted that, during recording, “I was thinking maybe it’s my swan song.”
“But I don’t know yet,” she added hastily, after protests from the audience. “Every time I ever made an album with Dave Stewart [in the Eurythmics] I always said, ‘That’s the last.’ And after that, with my own albums, it was, ‘That’s it! I’m never doing that again.’ But I came back to it…”
While retirement may not be on the agenda, a new album of original material seems unlikely. Nostalgia, set for release on October 21st, is her second album of cover versions in a row, following 2010’s A Christmas Cornucopia.
“I’ve stopped writing because I’m too happy,” she said, in conversation with journalist Neil McCormick at the 20th Century Theatre in West London. “It’s thanks to someone who will remain nameless, but who makes me very happy with life these days. A lot of my writing was cathartic because it was a very helpful way to get certain feelings expressed. Misery is a great catalyst for some extraordinary music but you don’t really want to live there 24/7. I’d rather be not successful and happy than be super-successful and absolutely miserable.”
But the veteran singer still had plenty to say, criticizing the modern obsession with celebrity. “We live in a celebrity-fixated culture and we live through them,” she said. “But what are we following? My name sometimes gets put in the celebrity category and it freaks me out. I’ve never seen myself that way and I find it diminishing. What I am is a musician and a communicator and there doesn’t seem to be a separation of that thing. I want to make something that touches people and makes them feel something. It isn’t about… the tsunami of useless stuff about somebody’s hair or cellulite.”
The new album features familiar standards including “Georgia on My Mind,” “I Put a Spell on You,” “Summertime” and “Strange Fruit,” but Lennox said she stripped down her versions to create fresh takes on even the most well-known material. “It’s an old adage but if you have a great song it will work just with a voice and guitar or voice and piano,” she said. “These songs have been done to death, some of them magnificently so. I wanted to get down to the core of the songs so you could feel something without too much elaboration.”
While she hasn’t done a full tour since 2007, Lennox did not rule out a return to live performance. “That’s a big question at the moment,” said the singer. “We’ll see.”