If any event has come to dominate 2016 it might have been the death of David Bowie. It was emotionally impacting for millions and it set the tone to that on-going meme of “Fuck 2016.”
It took me maybe 3 months to listen to Blackstar, not because I was necessarily emotionally distraught but I did love Bowie, I felt a connection to him which I shared with no other artist, as a child his shadow lay over my family and as an adult he came to represent individuality and outsider feeling, two things I personally connect to.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to interview his long-time producer Tony Visconti for my university paper which has only tightened my love towards Bowie.
The cover was designed by Jonathan Barnbrook, who did all his covers since Heathen
Due to all of that I didn’t want to listen to this album which was instantly dubbed his best since 1980's Scary Monsters and perhaps even before that, and I wanted to hear it without the fact that this would be David Bowie’s final artistic statement. However I can't lie that fact still flavoured my reception of the album.
I didn’t have to worry though, Bowie did what he always could, he managed to make a contemporary record which felt as depressing as it was ambitious.
Much has been said about the mortality hinting lyrics on the album but to me the highlight is Bowie’s adventurousness in the face of mortality, Blackstar (The song) is strong powerful and awe inspiring, and to me sits above the rest as the song of the album.
The album has been described by producer Tony Visconti as a "Parting gift" to fans
However the likes of Tis A Pity She Was A Whore and Lazarus are also near perfect statements by the chameleon of rock, and the way in which Bowie plays with us and the music is amazing and incredibly emotional for a long time fan.
The album slumps with Sue, Girl Loves Me and Dollar Days but the finisher I Can’t Give Everything Away is powerful and an atypically Bowie song, which I suppose makes it perfect.
Despite my personal adoration of the album I do recognise that it has been canonised too soon, it was dubbed the album of the year before the first month was over, but that doesn’t necessarily mean its untrue, however it isn’t my favourite, but that doesn’t stop it from being the album I believe defines one of the most interesting years of recent memory.