Released in: January 2016
Number of tracks: 7
“Blackstar” is the twenty-fifth and final studio album by English musician David Bowie. It was released worldwide through Bowie’s ISO Records label on 8 January 2016, Bowie’s 69th birthday and two days before his death.
Bowie recorded the album in the midst of an ongoing battle with cancer. His illness was only known by those very close to him and that remained so until the news of his death became public, two days after the album’s release. It became apparent immediately after that many lyrics seem to come from a man who knows death is near.
I’ve been playing to this record since the day Bowie died and I cannot stop listening to it each day. Sometimes I played it twice. It’s a totally different project he had done. This isn’t the glam rock I thought it turned out. It’s more of an experimental rock with huge jazz influence. Before we wrap up this record, let us first review it’s tracks.
We begin with a 10 minute track called Blackstar. It has a strange, eerie and unnatural feeling through the first half of the track. You can hear Bowie’s unsettling chant throughout the verses. It’s like there’s a dark ritual mass taking place. Then once it reaches to the 2nd half of the track, Bowie’s vocal starts to deliver from the gloominess and unilluminating tune to a rather joyful and pleasing approach. He is telling a story about a spirit rose from the body and an individual took his place as his manipulating voice cries and echoed out: “I’m a Blackstar! I’m a Blackstar!” That literally gave me chills! The notes and the arrangements on this track is part weird and part catchy. Then the next phase namely ‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore was previously released few years back along with Sue (Or In a Season of Crime), but in this project, he added more materials to give it a little more gripping and compelling to listen. The horns performance was incredibly done as it starts to intensify on the beginning of the track. These two horns were battling and competing with each other if which one makes the noisiest sound. You can hear the left horn trying to scale it’s tone up while the right horn manages to be on top. Then we are being introduced to a slow, melodic, psychedelic with more jazz elements brought in it called Lazarus. The lyric in this song tells us that Bowie is sharing about his afterlife/death experience and his accomplishments while he was alive. The guitar screeching at some areas, the simple repetitive jazz drum rhythm, the breathtaking saxophone at the end was majestic and haunting while the bass gives a pleasing feeling. Listening to Sue (Or In a Season of Crime) feels more impatient yet so appealing and edgy at the same time. It’s like you’re having a heart racing adrenaline rush to survive a battle in a cold warzone and your uzi weapon is your answer to keep yourself alive. Then we move on to Girl Loves Me which I find the lyric so derange and confusing. Though I find the chorus where he sang “Where the fuck did Monday go?” an unreal coincidence to his death. He wasn’t able to reach Monday when the media announces his death on the internet Sunday night. However, the arrangements on this song didn’t really appeal to me, but it doesn’t mean that I find it boring to listen. It’s still a good track, but it lack something that would spark my interest to my ear. Dollar Days this song reminds me much to his comeback album “The Next Day”. It’s more of a soothing and relaxing rock ballad approach with a remarkable saxophone pulse. The last orchestral melody on this track leaves a long, epic end as Bowie’s final words echoes and dissipates slowly. He is finally accepting his death and starts embracing and welcoming death in front of him. As the song fades, it transits to our finale track, I Can’t Give Everything Away. The moment I heard the first beat to this song, I felt so much ill, sorrow and sadness both physically and mentally. This is the final goodbye to Bowie’s friends, love ones and his fans. He wished to give something more, but sadly time is running out for him. This is the best song to end a story of a true legend and a genius in the music industry. It delivers an eye popping candy with a graceful harmonica at the beginning while the saxophone and guitar also offering an outstanding tribute to a great and powerful musician there was.
Overall, I find David Bowie’s final album refreshing, challenging and an awe-inspiring masterpiece! This record tells generally about his death since Johnny Cash’s farewell song. I enjoyed all the tracks that had made in this record and what a great album to end a singer-songwriter’s story. We will miss you Ziggy Stardust, but your music lives forever.
Review Score: 10/10
Best Tracks Ever: Blackstar, Tis a Pity She Was a Whore, Lazarus, Sue (Or In a Season of Crime), Dollar Days, I Can’t Give Everything Away