A self-assured cool, accomplished sound, and beautifully rich, reflective music - Under The Gun: 9/10
Source : Under The Gun Review
This much-hyped package of solo material from the revered Dave Stewart has all the hallmarks of his lengthy experience in the industry – a self-assured cool, accomplished sound, and beautifully rich, reflective music. Recorded over five days in Nashville, Tennessee, it’s heavily informed by its surroundings and imbued with the smoky, laconic warmth of the country and blues scene. Lyrically, the songs are detailed and vivid, while musically, they’re quite simple, but no less ornate.
Stewart has said that many of the lyrics are autobiographical, and this is clear from opening track “So Long Ago.” Referencing his inspiration for picking up a guitar as a youth and his reaction to a Rolling Stones show, it’s as sultry as the humidity of the environs would suggest, with a laid-back feel and swaggering sound throughout. Tepid vocals are layered coolly over some backing female singing with an easygoing guitar powering the music. This style characterises “Stevie Baby” too – a gentle, almost frayed tempo sets a mild and cheerful atmosphere enlivened by the occasional quirks of a six string. There’s an endearing universality to the vibrant nostalgia petering through these songs, lending the record a sturdy and loving heart.
The Blackbird Diaries (the title a reference to the studio in which recording took place) is rendered all the more impressive by the fact that it was recorded almost sporadically over five days – many of the songs finished in one or two takes with Stewart singing and playing guitar alongside the musicians. It’s a testament to his ability that the songs feel like labours of love that display no evidence of the brevity of the recording sessions. “Beast Called Fame” is a keenly orchestrated work, founded on a slow-burning but cheeky guitar refrain and strong bass line that gives it a subtle yet persuasive power all its own. It doesn’t feel quite as emphatic as the opener but it’s catchy, the surging guitars keeping it potent and clear. Similarly, on “Magic in the Blues,” the latter inject coursing electricity to offset the laconic tone set by a temperate piano and fiddle combination. The song flits between spirited and a kind of reluctant shyness, with detached vocals implying a turgid sense of reflection. “The Well” is a particularly memorable creation, evoking more than any other song the setting in which it was recorded. A luminous acoustic guitar conveys sparks of highway, with lots of sleepy, warm sunsets and endless soul-searching across a barren landscape. The lyrics hint at contrasting emotions and an instrumental interplay captures this well, lending the song an almost grim and very affecting fallacy.
Such vivid displays of sentiment permeate the record, to particularly absorbing effect on the duets. There are a number of guest appearances throughout and perhaps the most arresting comes courtesy of Stevie Nicks. Lending her dulcet tones to “Cheaper Than Free,” she affords the song an airy grace that lifts it into the exquisite. While the lyrics take some liberties (rhyming “fashion” and “passion” doesn’t quite endear), musically this track is minimalist and enjoyable, its slowness rendering it emphatic. Stewart has written that it “won’t fail to make you pause for thought and reflect on what life is really about,” which might be pushing it slightly, but it does have a deceptive power. “All Messed Up” features Martina McBride, and has a rather intense poignancy though it layers strings and choirs on a little too heavily and becomes a little contrived and trite by the end. “Bulletproof Vest” is far more compelling – Stewart duets with Colbie Caillat and the pair play off one another excellently to complement a tender, longing piano refrain.
Yet, the album isn’t all introspection and blues – it has a lively mixture of rather strait-laced pop, some old-fashioned rock sensibilities and a little Parisian detour. “Worth the Waiting For” is very poppy, if a little languid. It has a sturdy bass line at its heart and female harmonies to pad out the lilting rhythm, but it feels a lot more mainstream and accessible than many of the other tracks. “One Way Ticket to the Moon” is a gorgeous little number, perhaps an ode to Stewart’s time in France as the token accordion sound of the Gallic nation lingers. This creates a delicate sense of romanticism that spurs a lyrical tale of melancholy. The addition of a piano and guitar solo as it elapses almost detracts from the misty stillness of the words, but it’s a mystical and charming outtake from the swathes of cool elsewhere.
The Blackbird Diaries is certainly a very able and refined release, displaying all the maturity and dexterity one has come to expect from this renowned figure. It’s filled with soul-searching, reflection, and echoes of a life well-lived. For all that this might not fully engage a younger crowd, its loving throwbacks to the days of simple and effective tunes ought to appeal to anyone who genuinely loves music. It’s a gentler release than much of the madness about today, and one to savour and rediscover with each new listen. Fine fare for a road trip – in the words of Captain Jack, bring me that horizon…
SCORE: 9/10Review written by: Grace Duffy
Epoch Times 5/5 - Worthy Of His Musical Godhead: 2011-06
Source: Epoch Times
Stewart wrote every song on The Blackbird Diaries in two weeks and recorded the whole album in Nashville in five days and nights. The legendary Eurythmics co-founder hasproduced something worthy of his musical godhead and as American-sounding as anything from Dylan himself.
Backed by a stellar cast of session musicians, he performs simply perfect moody duets withcountry diva Martina McBride (whose studio the album was made in), Colby Caillat and Stevie Nicks. Completewith heartbreaking lyrics and siren-like backing vocals from the Secret Sisters, this is a masterly and magical work from the labyrinthine talents of a brilliant veteran in total control of his art.
This Is Satffordshire 8/10 - Packed Full Of Gems: 2011-06
Dave Stewart – The Blackbird Diaries
IT IS difficult to believe that 30 years have elapsed since Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox first teamed up with considerable success as electro-pop duo Eurythmics. The group dominated the UK charts for much of the 1980s.
These days an older and no doubt wiser Dave Stewart is following an esoteric solo path and the Blackbird Diaries heralds a triumphant return to form. Those pop hooks may be missing but nevertheless this low-key offering is packed full of gems, from opener So Long Ago through to elegant closer Can’t Get You Out Of My Head (not the Kylie song!), where Stewart’s croon sounds uncannily like a latter day Dylan. Excellent.
Guitar International: 2011-06
Source: Guitar International
Renaissance man Dave Stewart, who is a musician (ex-Eurythmics), producer, entrepreneur, author, filmmaker and philanthropist, is set to release The Blackbird Diaries on August 23rd. The album, released via Razor & Tie/Weapons of Mass Entertainment/Surfdog, will be Stewart’s first album of new original material in a decade.
An adventurous collection of songs, The Blackbird Diaries will feature duets with Martina McBride, Stevie Nicks, Colbie Caillat, and the Secret Sisters, along with a song that was co-written by Stewart and Bob Dylan.
The album is a novel mix of driving, unapologetic rock infused with blues licks and even some Americana, with lyrics that weave stories in the music. In an interview with Billboard, Dave said, “[The Blackbird Diaries has] got this weird mixture, like an Englishman landing in a country, blues, and rock atmosphere, but it has kind of a quirky side to it too.”
As a musician and producer, Dave Stewart has been incredibly prolific over the course of his career, amassing 100 million plus in album sales, many Grammy, European, and MTV awards, and a Lifetime Achievement Award. Recently, he has produced and co-written albums with Joss Stone and Stevie Nicks helping found Superheavy, a supergroup with the likes of Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, Damian Marley, and A.R. Rahman.
Glasswerk Review: 2011-06
Source : Glasswerk
Dave Stewart is a busy man. As well as forming a new band, Super Heavy, with Mick Jagger and others he has recently co-written and co-produced albums for both Joss Stone and Stevie Nicks.
And he also found the time to record this excellent collection of songs in Nashville’s famous Blackbird Studios. The album features a co-write with Bob Dylan, a duet with Stevie Nicks and other tracks with Martina McBride, Colbie Caillat and The Secret Sisters. An impressive list!
The Blackbird Diaries is very different from previous Stewart releases. This is a potent mix of rock and blues with touches of country thrown in to form a platform for some fine vocal performances. And the contrast between Stewart’s powerful voice and those of his female collaborators is a highlight throughout the album.
So Long Ago kicks things off with some meaty guitar riffs and a harmonica part that set the scene for a track that reminisces about the great blues musicians of the past. Stewart then builds on this foundation with Beast Called Fame and Magic In The Blues, both of which are rocking songs with big production and warm vocals.
All Messed Up, featuring country singer Martina McBride, slows things down; the intro featuring a piano with some lovely steel guitar. The duet tells the story of a love gone wrong in a tender and reflective tone. Then Stevie Baby changes the tempo once again. This is more of a pop song and while it is pleasant enough it somehow doesn’t quite fit here.
Cheaper Than Free is another wonderful duet, this time featuring the unmistakable tones of Stevie Nicks. It wouldn’t be out of place on any of Nicks’ solo albums and is perhaps a taste of what her collaboration with Stewart on the forthcoming album In Your Dreams will offer.
The Gypsy Girl and Me, a sprawling six minute bluesy epic that conjures up vivid images throughout, is the centrepiece of the album and its best track. Set in the French town of Arles, where Van Gogh once lived, it tells of a chance meeting that turns into something more significant.
One Way Ticket To The Moon, featuring country pop due The Secret Sisters and Bulletproof Vest with heartfelt vocals from Californian singer Colbie Caillat tell of ways to deal with the world, either by escapism or by creating a shell to hide behind.
Worth The Waiting For is a love song with a difference, telling of longing for a lover who has gone, but with the knowledge that she will return one day. Looking both backwards and forwards it has a gentle feel and the depth of the songwriting is impressive.
The Well starts with an acoustic guitar as Stewart’s deep vocals dominate, Chris Rea like, before the drums and electric guitar come in. There is something dark and foreboding about this fine track, which hints at the depth that we are prepared to go to get what we want.
Country Wine, again with The Secret Sisters, a gentle song with more beautiful steel guitar, is the only out and out country song on the album. Then the closing Can’t Get You Out Of My Head picks the pace up once more to finish the album with an excellent love song that would make an excellent single.
Dave Stewart has created what is quite simply a superb album. Using a supporting cast of talented musicians and singers he has crafted something very special. And towards the end of 2011 when discussions about the album of the year start, this one is sure to figure high on the list.
Stewart's latest offering is reminiscent of later Bob Dylan, Neil Young and 70's Rolling Stones. – Mojo
Dave Stewart has shown himself an able musical chameleon - Uptown 3½/4
Dave Stewart has shown himself an able musical chameleon through the years with the Eurythmics, on solo efforts and as a producer (working with Joss Stone, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and, SuperHeavy). Here, while still wearing his influences shamelessly on the sleeve, he reveals his true musical nature behind clearly autobiographical stories. Recorded in Nashville, the album is as much roots-influenced classic rock as it is country with a Stevie Nicks duet (Cheaper Than Free), a co-write with Bob Dylan (Worth The Waiting For) and a pure Nashville cameo by The Secret Sisters (Country Wine). Stewart likes a loose, Keith Richards-esque guitar-driven sound with vocal influences supplied by Bob Dylan, Gerry Rafferty and Leonard Cohen. While the mainstream rock music industry continues to implode, veterans such as Stewart — with real chops and music business savvy — find ways to stay in the game. That’s the case here — possibly because this one’s about the music and not about the money.
The Blackbird Diaries brings us back a Stewart in full command on his faculties. – Rolling Stone
Source: Rolling Stone
Recorded during a five-day sprint in Nashville, the Blackbird Diaries offers a rawer portrait of Dave Stewart – the producer, former Eurthymic and current member of Superheavy, with Mick Jagger – than you’re likely ever to have heard.
The nasty, lurching guitar that announces “So Long Ago,” the album’s opener, is the tip-off. The song name-checks blues greats Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside and Mississippi John Hurt, and signals the roots rock-arama that follows. Bob Dylan gets a co-write on the mid-tempo ballad “Worth the Waiting For,” and Stewart essentially rewrites “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” to come up with “The Gypsy Girl and Me.” Stewart is a shaky singer at best, but Stevie Nicks (“Cheaper Than Free”), Colbie Caillat (“Bulletproof Vest”), Martina McBride (“All Messed Up”) and the marvelous Secret Sisters (“Country Wine”) bolster him.
A man of many musical guises, Stewart may finally have learned that sometimes just being yourself will do.
Perhaps one of the most effortless-sounding pop records in recent memory – Pop Matters
Source: Pop Matters
Stalwart producer/songwriter and former Eurythmic Dave Stewart offers up the most atypical record of his career to date with this Nashville-recorded effort. It’s arguably one of the most successfully executed sidesteps in pop music. Featuring guest turns from new NPR darlings the Secret Sisters, plus Stevie Nicks, Martina McBride (John McBride is an associate producer and engineer on the album) and Colbie Caillat, The Blackbird Diaries further cements Stewart’s reputation as an ace writer and performer.
There’s a temptation here to refer to the 13-song album as Stewart’s country album and no doubt future rock historians will give in to said temptation but it’s an inaccurate description.Beaucoups of Blues was Ringo Starr’s country album and it was country end to end; The Blackbird Diaries has elements of country and yet fully retains plenty of rock and pop pleasures throughout.
Recorded in a furious five days in Music City and written, more or less, in a little more than that time, the album opens with the blues-y “So Long Ago” in which Stewart reminisces about R.L. Burnside, Mississippi John Hurt, the Rolling Stones, and his own travels from being a young man to a man with some years and experience behind him. It’s touching without being overly sentimental and sentimental without being filled with a choking sense of nostalgia.
“Magic in the Blues”, a country-tinged affair featuring the crack drumming of Chad Cromwell, is a fantastic ballad (in the strictest sense of the word) that may or may not tell the story of Stewart as he finds his way to Annie Lennox and, subsequently, the life he’s enjoyed since then. There’s also a nod to friendship via “Stevie Baby” undeniably about Stevie Nicks who offers a guest turn on “Cheaper Than Free” (which she co-wrote) and “Country Wine”, a beautifully written and executed number that calls to mind the aforementioned Ringo outing, Beaucoups of Blues. (If ever an Englishman proved that the British knew their way around a country tune, it was Ringo, after all; Stewart ain’t half bad himself.)
Elsewhere Stewart gets his inner Zevon out (“Beast Called Fame”, which also recalls Time Fades Away-era Neil Young) and lends a co-writing to credit to Bob Dylan on “Worth Waiting For”, which, appropriately enough, sounds very little like Dylan. In fact, the only moment that’s at all reminiscent of Dylan is the closing “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”—it’s a curiosity in that it might sound at home on a Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers record; and that’s at the hands of a man who helped create one of the least Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-sounding songs with “Don’t Come Around Here No More”, from Southern Accents.
The great success of The Blackbird Diaries is that it serves as yet another reinforcement of Stewart being one of the most necessary—and perhaps overlooked—songwriters and performers to emerge in the last 30 years. It’s fairly easy to assert that this is probably not indicative of a permanent direction from the artist but it’s a wonderful stopover and perhaps one of the most effortless-sounding pop records in recent memory.
This album sounds fantastic! – The Daily Telegraph
Source: Daily Telegraph
The former Eurythmics star lays down his synthesizers to explore his love of country rock. He’s a gifted producer and song craftsman, and this album sounds fantastic, but it’s let down by pedestrian lyrics. The curse of the eternal sideman, Stewart’s singing lacks authority. Highlights are all duets with strong women, notably Stevie Nicks.
Like God and Elvis, Dave Stewart is everywhere…don't miss Blackbird Diaries, the former Eurythmic's best solo effort yet. – Huffington Post
Source: Huffington Post
Like God and Elvis, Dave Stewart is everywhere – or so it seems today. He produced In Your Dreams, arguably the best solo album of Stevie Nicks’ career. And he’s also teamed up with Joss Stone (whose new album he also produced), Damian Marley, A.R. Rahman and some guy named Mick Jagger in a new, left-field supergroup called Superheavy. Still, don’t miss “Blackbird Diaries,” the formery Eurythmic’s best solo effort yet — and one that came in a typically mad rush in Nashville. Featuring appearances by Stevie Nicks and Martina McBride, as well as a previously unheard songwriting collaboration with some guy named Bob Dylan, Stewart’s Diaries – already out as an import – are well worth searching out.
Dave Stewart has had a reputation for capturing magic in the studio. He does it again on his new album. – Billboard
A very entertaining mix of rock, blues, country and reggae…all fine, richly-textured songs, hinting at Bob Dylan’s genre-shopping genius. – Sunday Express
Source: Daily Express
EURYTHMICS co-founder Dave Stewart must be one of the hardest-working rockers in the business.
With half the new Stevie Nicks album bearing his name and a new Joss Stone offering coming later this month you cannot help but wonder how he found time to round up the talent and lay down the tracks for this new project.
Including songs he wrote with Bob Dylan and collaborations with Stone and Nicks and Martina McBride, it’s a high-quality, bluesy, American-flavoured affair with Dave himself sounding like the veteran music man he really is.
Stewart presents gnarly rock…and proves again that he is one of the absolutely best guitar players alive. – Piranha
An equally contemporary and timeless blues rock album. Totally natural. – Guitar Magazine
The legendary Eurythmics co-founder has produced something worthy of his musical godhead and as American-sounding as anything from Dylan himself. – Selby Times
Dave enewed gloriously with the origins of that pop upon which he imposed himself as one of the principal artists at the end of the last century. – Rock and Folk
An inspiring album. – The Sun
The Englishman comes up with top-class southern rock, blues and Americana in such an accomplished way as if he had never done anything else. – Stereoplay
Stewart's songs carve out a unique space between country, rock, British blues, and swing band ballads that's all his own…Stewart's high spirits and sense of humor make every track shine. – Crawdaddy
Dave Stewart knows how to swing an axe…this album fishtails up the highway of old-time rock 'n' roll like a '59 Chevy. – Guitarist
A sensation. – Grand Gtrs Magazine
Stewart's Album Soars – WNCT
Source: WNCTGood morning again, everyone. I mentioned yesterday that I received another new album, and that I’d have a review for it posted soon. Well, that soon is today. The reason for it being so soon is that this release is such an enjoyable album. It’s an opus that’ll impress fans of country, blues, and even southern rock. Ironically, it’s from an artist that isn’t typically associated with such styles of music. Today, in the Reel Reviews music corner, it’s the new album from Dave Stewart, or the other half of the Eurythmics.
He may look like Ringo Starr, and sing like a weird Don Henly/Bob Dylan/Elvis Costello hybrid, but Dave Stewart–of Eurythmics fame–has crafted one of the most underrated albums of 2011. His new release, “The Blackbird Diaries”, sails proudly through a sea of artists that’s as motionless as the air in the doldrums. Every solo album that Stewart has released has been different from the one before. And this album is no different. Rather than going the pop, techno, etc route., Stewart has opted this time, for an album that smoothly walks the line of blues, country, and southern rock. It’s one of those rare albums that makes audiences feel as if they’re at a live concert, despite being a studio recording. It lifts listeners off with an easygoing blues/rock piece in ‘So Long Ago’, and leaves them nearly breathless at the end with ‘Can’t Get You Out of my Head”. Along the way, he gives audiences just enough time to catch their breath before lifting off again here and there.
Along with being musically impressive, “The Blackbird Diaries” is straight forward, lyrically. Sure, there are metaphors here and there, such as in ‘Bulletproof Vest’. But Stewart doesn’t leave audiences guessing at what the song’s about. It’s about giving love a chance. The added guest voice of pop star Colbie Caillat doesn’t hurt this song, either. Speaking of guest vocals, Stewart somehow managed to convince Fleetwood Mac’s own Stevie Nicks to come on board for this record, along with country star Martina McBride, and The Secret Sisters.
For those who want a little something more than the standard songs about romance, Stewart offers options. One of the best options is classic country, right down to the lyrics. No, it’s not a downer about love lost. Rather, it’s a nice laid back piece titled, ‘Country Wine’. This is one of those songs that’s great for a lazy afternoon, whether one’s alone or not. Stewart sings on the chorus, “Country wine/life is sweet/with my feet under the table/and all that country food to eat.” Hearing such music and lyrics coming from someone known more for his work in the late 80’s brit-pop movement is one heck of a mind twist. It’s not the only mind twist on this album, either.
‘One Way Ticket to the Moon’ is just as peculiar as ‘Country Wine; though not in a bad way. It stands out among the album’s other songs in that one really wouldn’t expect the music and lyrics to work so well. Yet, they do. Together, they make for an Elvis Costello-esque song that’ll be stuck in audiences’ heads for days. It’s just one of many songs that makes “The Blackbird Diaries” both one of the most underrated, and best albums of 2011.
Stewart's voice has never sounded in such good form, drifting from Johnny Cash to hints of Tom Petty. – Music-News
Strong songs, direct, fresh…authentic and atmospheric. – Classic Rock
The new Stewart surprises and moves the listener likewise. – Sonntagszeitun
An amazing album. – Chitarre
Tottenham And Wood Green Journal: 3/5 : 2011-06
With 100 million album sales under his belt, the musician, producer, etc, tries his hand at Americana… with mixed, albeit highly polished, results.
Eurythmics co-founder Stewart looked to American rock, country and blues for this latest venture.
Recorded over five days and nights in John McBride’s Blackbird Studio last July, Diaries opens with So Long Ago, a bluesy, woozy and meaty chunk of slick Americana name-checking everyone from the Stones to Mississipi John Hurt.
It neatly signposts what follows; a well-put-together, celebrity-sprinkled plod-fest that’s frustratingly light on conviction.
Worth The Waiting For features surprisingly direct lyrics for a track co-written by Bob Dylan, and heads inexorably towards the fist-bitingly twee.
All Messed Up’s duet with Martina McBride has steel guitar, gentle swaying and ooh-oohs all neatly lined up, but lacks emotional spark.
That Diaries is referred to as Stewart’s latest ‘project’ reveals perhaps this album’s biggest hurdle of all. 3 stars