The Bottom Line
For his 66th birthday, David Bowie, one of the living legends of pop music, has released the first single from his upcoming first new studio album in nearly a decade. It is a measured piece of reflective music that befits an elder statesman of music. David Bowie's ageless voice shines through as the song ends ultimately on an upbeat hopeful note for the future.
- Warmth and reassurance in David Bowie's vocals
- Contemplative, organic production
- Hopeful tone in the end
- No new ground broken
- Written by David Bowie
- Produced by Tony Visconti
- Released January 2013 by Columbia
Guide Review - David Bowie - "Where Are We Now?"
Although David Bowie curtailed his work schedule following heart surgery in 2004, the ever restless artist has been anything but inactive. Now, nearly 10 years after his last studio album Reality, he has introduced the upcoming The Next Day with the song "Where Are We Now?" It is a slow, contemplative work that at first seems saddening with lines of, "Walking the dead," but closes with hopeful chords and the words, "As long as there's me, as long as there's you."
The setting for "Where Are We Now?" is Berlin, referencing such landmarks as Potsdamer Platz and Nurnberger Strasse. It was home to David Bowie in the late 1970s during one of the most productive artistic periods of his life resulting in the albums Low and Heroes. The cover art for The Next Day also references that era by blotting out the iconic cover of Heroes. 35 years later he has returned for more artistic inspiration.
David Bowie works once again with producer Tony Visconti, a long-time collaborator. He was on board for the landmark albums mentioned above, and he returned to working with David Bowie on the two most recent studio albums, Heathen and Reality. The rich, organic, orchestral sound of the single fits well alongside his most recent work, particularly songs like "Everyone Says Hi" and "5:15 The Angels Have Gone" from Heathen. However, one significant change is the occasional bombast of room-filling vocals has been left behind in favor of a more interpretive sound that leaves plenty of room for conveying thought and emotion.
It is unclear at this point in his career if David Bowie will generate another major pop hit single, but "Where Are We Now?" instantly climbed into the iTunes sales chart. The song accomplishes the major feat of sounding reassuring and like a record that makes perfect sense at this point in the career of a musical legend. We should expect nothing more.