‘Blackstar’ acts as a rather apt summation of David Bowie‘s peerless career. Spanning an impressive array of sonic palettes and with a formidable reputation for reinventing himself, this 25th and final outing is a signature foray into the unexpected, a bewildering canvas of arty, heritage swerving delights which is as restlessly experimental and innovation hungry as the Starman has ever been:
Ushering in the saxophone talents of revered jazz-man Donny McCaslin, the golden horn litters the record with its sultry trill and unfettered warbling, yet to say that ‘Blackstar’ is a jazz album would be overlooking a seemingly endless host of influences, from the underlying drum ‘n’ bass rhythmic pulse of ‘Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)’, the title tracks wistful yet haunting multi narrated sprawl and the lyrical/vocal oddity of ‘Girl Loves Me’.
It is all unmistakably Bowie however, suffused with his soulful melodic pipes, although it is difficult escape the often unsettling, almost doom laden tone which permeates these seven tracks, veering song structures and knotty time signatures making for perhaps the most extreme and uncompromising statement from Bowie, at once willfully eccentric and frequently bleak. No matter your opinion of this however, ‘Blackstar’ is brimming with outrageously good songs, constantly fusing genres and defining David Bowie‘s refusal to dwell on the past. Fears of catering to fans and radio exposure are wholly cast aside, and the result is a piece of work that sounds far and beyond anything we could foresee from a musician entering their seventieth year, even one so esteemed. Fearlessly intriguing, and a more than worthy swansong.
Written by Tony Bliss (@TBliss88)