Review of Bowie’s final gift, Blackstar
DAVID Bowie aka "Starman" aka "Major Tom", "Ziggy Stardust" "Halloween Jack" "The Thin White Duke" defined his career by not only his music but also by creating characters and theatre around it's delivery.
These characters courageously portrayed themes on the very fringe of subculture, around gender, sexuality, cult of personality, science fiction, and rock'n'roll excess. It is this very reason that makes his last body of work Blackstar so Important. David Bowie passed away in his sleep on 11/01/2016 after an 18 month secretive battle with cancer.
Unlike many celebrities who would book a chat with Oprah, or make some last plea via mainstream media, he decided to capture his last days with a studio album of exquisite beauty. He created a new character that transcended death like a space explorer would transcend the earth. The title track is an epic saga, and for 10 minutes we are introduced to a fallen Angel/Christ figure who is pleading to disciples to recognize his identity on the day of his execution.
"I'm not a Gangster, I'm a Blackstar."
The tumbling sharp electro beats reminiscent of his collaboration with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails are softened by the warm sax, and calm synth. The song transfers us to a place of "fame" like funky, before his final plea for definition gives in to a soft release.
"Lazarus" is written in a retrospective position from a man already in Heaven, fearful, but excitedly sexy in this new "New York" high on heavenly nectar. It's a seductive saxophone dripping tale of a man fragile in a new land penniless but scrutinized by his fame. The sax becomes his soul in the body of a bird fluttering and ascending.
The more optimistic and nostalgic "I can't give everything away" is a surrender, and feels personal like a glimpse behind the stage after the show. Like close friends reminiscing lost regret, giggling and self deprecating like only the British can. Major chord melodies and pop sensibility see him repeating the title with a shrug and a sigh.
The whole album gives subtle nods musically to his huge body of work, sometimes funky, sometimes pop, sometimes abrasive, but the overall picture is something new. The character portrayed demands to be seen, and demands you to build an emotional connection, he wants to be discovered. This is not the aloof Duke or the confronting Ziggy, this is a personal father conveying his love for his children.
I as one of his children cherish his final gift.