The Next Day

David Bowie

So, guess who has a new album out in 2013? David Bowie…yes that David Bowie! Bowie and his very best producer, Tony Visconti, worked in secret over two years on what could easily be called "sporadic" sessions. Over a three-month period of demoing and recording, a 14-song album took shape with a 'band' of players Bowie has known from his past. Pretty much Bowie fan or not, I doubt you'll be disappointed with The Next Day.

A rocking title track opens the Thin White Duke's 26th studio release, followed by another rocker, a little grimier, called "Dirty Boys." That lush first offering streaming a month before the album's release, "Where Are We Now" is what producer Tony Visconti calls a familiar enough taste to acclimate the public with that familiar Bowie sound. It is a great languid number with Henry Hey's piano so effective behind the singer's measured melancholic chorus.

"Are The Stars Out Tonight?" has the band chunking loud over a buried vocal. It's a big and loud guitar tune, but as far as rockers go, I was more taken with "Boss Of Me" with its growly Tony Levin bass, a well-placed Steve Elson baritone sax and Zachary Alfrod's drumming. It's mean, low and slightly scary, like something out the Diamond Dogs era.

"Valentines Day" sounds like an offering from the 80s - it's got a great riff (courtesy of Earl Slick) and cool nah-nahing backing vocals. "Love Is Lost" boasts blaring Bowie-played keys, solid guitar riffing from Gerry Leonard and a dragging snare from Alford. This is a tune that truly goes nowhere, but man is it hot; Bowie bites into a fantastic lyric on this tone poem of a song.

"If You Could See Me" opens with some scaling vocalizations from Gail Ann Dorsey, supported by Alford's unbelievable drumming. You could say this is probably one of the most modern-sounding tunes on The Next Day but even when Bowie dips back into some of the more classic sounding material, like "(You Will) Set The World On Fire" with its catchy chorus, he's still one of the most forward thinking musicians we have ever had.

Bowie's voice doesn't get much better than on the last two tracks. "You Feel So Lonely You Could Die" is a gospel-flavored opus with strings and "Heat" has a "Space Oddity" vibe that you can just imagine Bowie mesmerizing a stadium audience with, despite proclamations that he's done with live performances.

The unassuming CD cover of The Next Day plays on the cover of Heroes, with designer Jonathan Barnbrook remarking, "If you are going to subvert an album by David Bowie, there are many to choose from but this is one of his most revered. It had to be an image that would really jar if it were subverted in some way, and we thought Heroes worked best on all counts." The Next Day subverts, works and makes one rejoice there is David Bowie music in 2013.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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