52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2000
Very few times have I ever seen an album title so perfectly describe an artist and release. Forget comparing her with her past (and present) in the Eurythmics; with Diva, Annie Lennox makes audiences stand up and take notice of her power and talent as an individual. With poignant lyrics, lush orchestrations, and her incredible voice, Annie Lennox puts together a brilliant and powerful piece of aural beauty. Even before Lillith Fair and the "women's movement" in music came along, Annie Lennox was showing the world how women really were "doin' it for themselves." And she was doin' it with style, grace, beauty, brains, power, and finesse.
The release begins on a very strong note with "Why" which showcases the strength, power and beauty of Annie's voice, accompanied by lush, beautiful orchestration. It's no wonder this song was a huge success as a single in 1992. "Walking on Broken Glass" was also released as a single and had a lot of success; it still gets played a lot today on light rock stations. This is a very strong and uplifting song. Unfortunately for me, some of its initial power and edge has been lost because it has been overplayed, but that's just a personal interjection. "Precious" gives us a bit of the soul rock flavor that Eurythmics' fans are familiar with; this is a fantastic and strong attitude song. "Legend in My Living Room" is another fantastic soul-rock attitude song that tells it like it is; you'll be struttin' around with your hands on your hips and singing along. "Cold" returns us to the deep, lush, melancholic feel we started with in "Why" with just a bit of attitude thrown in. "Money Can't Buy It" is a power pop attitude song enhanced by powerful lyrics; you'll be swaying, clapping, and singing along to this one. "Little Bird" is a catchy, fantastic, happy dance-and-sing-along song. However, this is one of those rare occasions where the dance remix of the song actually surpassed the brilliant original (thanks to Utah Saints, this song was a resounding dance floor smash). Other reviewers have nailed the beautiful "Precious" with a single word - atmospheric. The beginning orchestration to "Stay By Me" had me thinking this was going to be a sappy pop song. But as soon as Annie begins to sing, you become mesmerized by the beauty of her voice; this is a beautifully crafted song. "The Gift" is a powerful yet subtle piece, very deep with emotion; it reminds me of the Blue Nile's release Hats. The CD concludes on a wonderfully fun note with "Keep Young and Beautiful." This is Annie's remake of an old classic, which is executed perfectly, from her voice down to the old style sound and record scratches. I can totally see Annie as a flapper singing this in a speakeasy!
Falling in among my top 20 releases of all time, this release easily gets a 5 star rating. Whether you let this album stand alone or compare it with other Annie and Eurythmics releases, this is one of the (if not THE) strongest albums released by Annie Lennox. Furthermore, this is a strong piece of art in and of itself, and anyone who appreciates great pop rock will love this album. Whether you are a fan of great orchestration, fantastic and talented voices, or well-written and thoughtful lyrics, this album has everything for everyone. I would recommend this album to almost anyone. The only qualifier I would place is that a certain level of maturity would enhance listening to this release, allowing the listener to really understand the lyrics and let them truly make an impact.
This is a fun, brilliant, powerful masterpiece. Buy it. If you already own it, play it. The experience will be worth every moment.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 1999
I have bought many other cds from many other artists, and after a few times of listening to them, they end up on the shelf collecting dust. This has never happened with 'Diva'. Annie speaks to your soul with her music. "Why", "Cold", these songs I have never grown tired of. They can still make me bawl like a baby. Annie Lennox's voice and vocal energy on this album...how can I do her justice with mere words, she touches your soul and your heart with her incredible vocal talent and the emotion she pours out in each tune. You can feel her pain, her love and, yes, sometimes even contempt in each word she sings. Her voice is hauntingly beautiful, wonderfully soulful, and deliciously creamy. She is one the greatest female singers of our century and this album proves it.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2001
Annie Lennox, in my opinion is one of the greatest female singers alive today, with vocal ability and beauty that can make other artists feel sheepish in the prescence of this fantastic woman. Although Annie is fighting to keep the independent side of her alive most people always classify her under her former group Eurythmics, which in my opinion was Annie's immateur phase. On this album she produces songs on this album ranging from a variety of styles that will satisfy anybody's appetite. Among my favorites is "Why," a beautiful ballad about a relationship that took a turn for the worse, "Walking On Broken Glass" sounds more like a pop song with the same concept in mind as "Why" except that Annie demands attention from her lover, "Money Can't Buy It" sounds like a song Blondie would sing, she even raps at the end! "Little Bird" Annie's voice really shines through on this track, with an incredible beat and of course, Annie's vocals as the chorus, and "The Gift" about the miracle of breaking up, it's very sad yet moving song.
For a debut album this certainly tops the list, and after you buy this album you will understand my point of view.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 1999
To a previous reviewer: "Diva is an honorific to be bestowed, not claimed"? Don't condescend, and don't criticise a work just because you haven't read between the lines. The title is meant to be ironic, as testified by the videos,interviews and bonus track "Keep Young And Beautiful".That's precisely what gives the largely gentle album its refreshingly intelligent pop edge. She's playing with the role of the trapped and fallen "diva". But best of all, she still manages to provide some sincere and beatiful tracks which transcend these ironies (notably "Why" and "The Gift"). All good stuff.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
There was no question that Annie Lennox was going to make it solo. Face it, she was the prominent and more visible part of Eurythmics, while her cohort Dave Stewart did...uh...let's see... Seriously though, Lennox's first solo effort Diva has her more the queen of bad love and doom, and that deep timbre of a melodic voice of hers rings truly here. The music here lacks the hooks of Eurythmics songs such as "Thorn In My Side" or "Sweet Dreams." No, this is a more serious affair. The bitterness of songs like "Don't Ask Me Why" are there, though.
Synths and high octave piano form a lush but poignant backing on "Why", on words and thoughts on a life that have never come out into the open, and the life that will be lead instead. The list of things she describes after the last verse comprises that, "the book I never read", "the words I never said", "the path I'll never tread", etc. Her whispering "I don't think you know how I feel" addresses this lack of communication.
A kind of brisk tempo highlights the strings-laden "Walking On Broken Glass." The title is in reference to her life, which has been shattered, and hence she feels like she's... well... A very Buddhist outlook on life is shown when she sings "now everyone one of us was made to suffer/everyone of us was made to weep."
A slow but steady drum machine sets the tempo for "Precious", punctuated by bass and airy synths, rejoicing on the arrival of a special one who's a breath of fresh air after being "covered up with sadness" and being cynical and twisted all the years. The repeated refrain "Well I was lost until you came" enhances that message as well.
The bitter disappointment of dreams sunken by reality leading to a hard life on a dead end street is what "Legend In My Living Room" portrays. With lines as "I've shed my tears in bitter drops until the thorn trees bloomed/to take the spiky fruit to crown myself the Queen of doom", this is obviously not a happy song.
"Cold" features the same airy synths and pianos as "Why," a languid tempo, and Annie's gospel-like soul backing vocals. Cold is what Annie wants to feel less of lest she be frozen over due to a lack of reciprocated love. The line that really struck me was "Dying is easy, it's living that scares me to death."
In "Money Can't Buy It", Annie sings against materialism and to drive that point home, does a rap where she briefly takes on the persona of a rich white girl whose got so many diamonds she can't close her safe, showing how this girl is "lying awake in a sick dream." Instead, she sings "I believe in the power of creation" and "in love alone."
The closest to a Eurythmics song here is "Little Bird", with its insistent tempo and keyboards. Shown here is the contrast between a free, flying bird in the sky with a troubled soul weighted to the ground, feeling "so dark with rage and fear" and wanting the strength to emulate that bird.
"Primitive" is another melodic synth ballad on hopes and prayers to make on strong during the brief life in the ephemeral world.
"The Gift" has Annie at her most desolate, giving a tired disillusioned face on a stifling relationship, and the need to stop "living in this same sick joke."
The final song "Keep Young And Beautiful" is a send-up of an upbeat 1920's-style piano ditty extolling the virtues of cuteness and looks and figure for the good life, and never mind about brains. It even sports scratches from an old LP for effect.
More melodic and wistful than anything Eurythmics has done, Diva shows Annie Lennox as a capable solo artist, though a few more uptempo songs could've helped.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2004
After being a part of Eurythmics, Annie Lennox created her first solo album, Diva. She is truly a diva, musically far above the rest.
The good: Every song has that unforgettable "Lennox touch". Some songs, such as Why, Stay By Me, and Cold are calm, relaxing songs. Songs like Walking On Broken Glass, Little Bird, and Legend In My Living Room have catchy lyrics, a good, strong beat, and a nice rhythm.
The bad: I fell in love with these songs so much that I over-listened to it. Don't follow in my footsteps, please.
I feel Diva was a wonderful transition between Eurythmics and Annie's solo career. You definitely won't be disappointed when you buy this CD.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2001
I can't imagine what Daniel Durchholz had for supper when he wrote his review of Diva; it is, in my opinion, and remains, one of the most beautifully haunting efforts by a female artist yet. Not only did Annie manage to fly well away from the synthetic pop of the Eurythmics; she clearly established herself of a voice of substance, emotion and great range. I loved this CD the day I bought it; I love it more today.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2004
Annie Lennox is amazing. Her vocals and style in 'Diva' take my breath away!
There is not one track on this entire amazing CD that I ever skip. If I put it in my CD player, it is there from cover to cover.
Highlight songs: Why, Little Bird, Cold & Money Can't Buy It.
I don't believe there will ever be an album I hear that will over take this CDs place as my favorite.
Simply blows me away!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2006
It's always risky to close out an album with a novelty number as Annie Lennox does on this, her first solo release. Actually, the very inclusion of a novelty tune at all is kind of chancy. But thrown in as a closer, a jaunty bit of a lark can risk undercutting the mood of an entire album (at least for those who play CDs straight through these days). And by rights, the capper on this album, a 1930s style chauvinistic chestnut called "Keep Young And Beautiful" could be said to undermine what is, after all, an otherwise moody and atmospheric set.
But, go figure, but it works perfectly. You gotta hand it to the Scots siren, after a good deal of introspective sombreness, this bit of Jazz Age fluff is just about the cat's meow.
In fact, if the gorgeous gloom of the rest of the album (particularly as manifested on the tracks "Cold," "The Gift" and the big hit "Why") was kind of starting to get oppressive, the closer not only makes for a lighthearted exit, but actually makes a statement of sorts about "womanhood" in the '90s (when the record was first released) and the pre-feminist early 20th century.
And that is simply this: as hard as it may be to be an autonomous, independent, and (yes) liberated woman, it's hands down better than having to "keep young and beautiful, if you want to be loved..." Times have changed, and life and love have gotten maddeningly complex. But would you really be better off with an empty head and "a Marcel wave in your hair"? I didn't think so.
As for the rest of the album, well, it suffers a bit from saving much of the best stuff for last, including two of the three titles I cited above. "Why," of course, is the opener and it's just about a perfect pop record. You fall into it and fall in love with it, even before you quite realize what it's about. (I remember thinking it might have more social import or philosophical heft than it actually does: songs with titles like "Why" sometimes do.) But while I subsequently came to like the two or three songs that follow it well enough, they never seemed fully developed, never quite rich enough. "Walking On Broken Glass" continues the broken heart theme of "Why," but its profession of heartache is (of course deliberately) set to a jarringly sprightly bounce of a melody and a kitschy ice arena arrangement. Maybe it too should be viewed as somthing of a novelty tune.
DIVA has been hailed for its musical and lyrical spareness, as even the prosaic titles ("Precious," "Cold," "Primitive," et al.) suggest. Even when the title is a bit longer and more evocative, as for example "Legend In My Living Room," the narrative can be a bit skimpy. Starts off promisingly as a reminiscence of the singer's wild and wooly years and then devolves into so many "Have mercies." Tuneful enough, but there goes any hope of a grand statement, even if she does own up to being "the queen of doom"
But those gospel-styled shout outs do remind us of one Lennox's trademark stylistic devices (and, arguably, one her chief strengths). She can sing big, and she can sing black, but it's always a least a little ironic and definitely cold cold cold. I read once that she's been called the "white Grace Jones." But she's actually got a more powerful delivery than the devilish Ms. Jones ever did. I'd call her more of a cross between Grace SLICK (now that would be a dream duet--Gracie and Annie) and Aretha (who actually did duet with Ann on "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves"). Heavy on the soulful inflection, even heavier on the irony. If you hail from Aberdeen, and not Alabama, is there any other way to go?
Well, you can go one up on Sting, say. "Why" wraps up with a letter-perfect Sting-style litany ("This is the book I never read/These are the words I never said"). It builds so dramatically, so authoritatively that you don't want to argue with its conclusion. Yeah, that jerk never had a CLUE about how she felt. Of course, we never doubt her assertion that for her part, SHE could always read what her lover was thinking. She knew how HE felt. Post-modern sexual stereotyping? Or just a simple truth about a specific relationship. And is the song autobiographical enough that that relationship was real, or is it a fiction? Dunno. Things were so much easier back in the day of "Keep Young And Beautiful."
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2003
At first sight or perception, Annie Lennox may seem an aloof, even a cold woman. But her music reveals a multifaceted personality, very intelligent and insighful. Her music is simple, although one does not always recognise its charms instantly. However, when those moments come, they are all the more rewarding.
"Diva" (1992) was her solo debut after more than a decade of Eurythmics career. Personally, I never cared too much for the music of Eurythmics (albeit some of their songs are truly good), but Annie's solo work emphasises her sophisticated, yet very feminine viewpoint on the world.
The album met with instant success at the time of its release. It won Brit Award for best British album of 1992 and in 1993 she also won the Grammy for best pop female vocal and MTV Video Music Award (both for track and video "Why"). Also the other radio-friendly hits ("Walking On Broken Glass", "Little Bird") still sound as fresh as ever and do not get old quickly.
"Precious" has an evident rock-soul groove to it, "Cold" and "Money Can't Buy It" wrap by-no-means-trivial lyrics in state-of-the-art, sublime arrangements. The most fascinating tune, "Primitive", is an orientally-inspired song easily able to move you to a red hot desert, with sun setting and drums beating. The spine-chilling effect guaranteed.
Somehow out of the line of the album are "Legend In My Living Room", a raw autobiographical portrait, and "Stay By Me," a pop identikit which would suit most singers but with Annie it is just her average -- and a bit too long. But as a whole, "Diva" is a sample of what this great artist may be capable of. Truly one of the best albums to come from Britain in 1990's.