Since discovering this morning that David Bowie’s new album The Next Day is available for streaming, I’ve been listening to it pretty much non-stop. I came to love Bowie’s output from the years Mick Ronson was his right hand man, and much of the rest of his late seventies and early eighties output. I dropped off from him a bit during his “resurgence” in the nineties, mostly because it felt like a lot of his music was trying too hard to adopt the style of others, rather than build on his own musical innovations. Still, even then, I much preferred his work over other late sixties musicians, who have been more content to abandon any attempt to do something fresh in favor of lounge standards and American Songbook crooning.
So when the completely out of left field announcement of a new album hit, I immediately tracked down the first single, “Where are We Now?” Down tempo and slow burning, it’s a song filled with sharp lyrics and elegant musicianship. Here Bowie sounds like a man in his late sixties, and it actually serves as a great lead-in to the rest of the album, which is much harder-edged. This first song is really the only that shows his age. The rest of the tracks basically do everything I wished his late nineties and early aughts material would have. Listening to each song – such as the second single “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” – you can hear hints of his past personas peeking out between the bars. Tony Visconti’s crisp production brings a vibrancy to the songs, which have Bowie sounding fresher than he has in years.
Currently, there’s no intention on his part to tour, which is a shame because these songs would absolutely kill on stage, but simply having a new album is a treat, and one I expect I’ll be listening to quite a lot. The full album is streaming now on iTunes, and will be out in the US March 12.