Bare is arguably the most personal work that Lennox has every produced. It is not immediately accessible on first listen, it is a record you have to replay and reflect on; but the effort is well worth the reward. The new collection of songs will appeal primarily to Lennox purists and anyone who has ever had a relationship hit the rocks (most of us right?!).
The album opens with the sparkling wistfulness of ‘1000 Beautiful Things’. Next is the first radio single from the album, ‘Pavement Cracks’ which stands out as the showpiece, that demonstrates that the power of her voice is as awesome as ever. The only thing to surpass it, is the live version and that can be found on the DVD of the solo tour. Next up is the gentle lazy soul of the ‘Hurting Time’ followed by ‘Honestly’, a beautifully layered double vocal arrangement on top of a hypnotic rhythm. While ‘Wonderful’ is a gentle massage that Lennox pushes deeper and deeper into the listener. The most up-tempo song ‘Bitter Pill’ is a deliciously funky track that is crying out to be remixed as a club anthem. ‘Loneliness’ is a track that leaves the listener spinning as if drunk, but if you take time to read the lyrics it makes sense; again Lennox requires the listener to work for their reward. A track that commands its own haunting space on the album is ‘The Sadist Song’ which leaves you feeling like you are standing in the middle of an Icelandic glacial lake. But there is no time for sentimentality, as the ferocious ‘Erased’ jumps from the record with the roar of old ‘I’ll just erase you from my memory’. The penultimate track ‘Twisted’ is a luscious close to a hypnotic 50 minutes. Yet it is not the last song, that place is reserved for ‘Oh God’ which the album listing makes clear is a prayer; with that, the spell is broken and you are released.
The reviews in the British press have been decidedly impatient with Bare, but with the sparkling back catalogue of highly commercial hits that Lennox has, she now clearly feels freed from the chart game. This record is an assertion of that right in the face of her critics and it will surely see Lennox sweep the board at next year’s BRITS & Grammy awards.