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    Amy Winehouse

    back to black

    Back To Black 8 ( 2006 )
    Rehab / You Know I'm No Good / Me & Mr Jones (Fuckery) / Just Friends / Back To Black / Love Is A Losing Game / Tears Dry On Their Own / Wake Up Alone / Some Unholy War / He Can Only Hold Her / Addicted

    Hip hop producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi help craft the music here, a pleasingly retro soul sound married to very modern, street wise lyrics. Her voice is jazzy and soulful in a clearly untrained way. Her voice is a million miles removed from the average American diva, the British Amy Winehouse sounds like she's lived, which adds the requisite believability factor to the lyrics. It's not just the retro soul sound by the way that makes you think highly of this record. The tunes sound like they've been around forever, instant classics. I'm struggling to write this review, actually. Why? I didn't want to like Amy Winehouse, I really didn't. Don't like the way she looks, her voice is an acquired taste that can grate over a full album. Yet, the songs convince. Ok, so 'Back To Black' perhaps lacks enough variety and fails to present the complete range of emotions. It's the post-breakup album, yet Amy isn't trying to draw your sympathy, rather attract your rage, to be directed presumably at her ex-other. She's trying to present herself, and does so successfully, as a strong, sassy personality. Even without reading the newspapers, so much is evident from just a few cursory listens to this album. Still, whilst a Lily Allen may be seen to be cute and lovable, Amy Winehouse still manages to make it difficult, even with all her obvious talents, to actually fall in love with her and her music. There's always a detachment.

    'Rehab' which you've probably already heard, kicks the album off with a bang. It's a clever, modern production and very catchy and striking. The 2nd highlight arrives with 'Me And Mr Jones', an inversion of 'Me And Mrs Jones' which every ageing would be soul crooner sings every year on X-Factor. Amy's take is an original composition, all jazzy swings vocally and much merriment to be had from the swearing. You don't expect it in such a song, a kind of weird semi Frank Sinatra swing. The title track opens like classic Motown before failing to follow the obvious route. It's a really impressive composition actually, especially the section two-thirds through where the beats fade out and Amy sings over swirling strings. It sounds like a movie-theme. Someone should get Amy singing the next Bond theme, says I. 'Tears Dry On Their Own' is an instant classic, it's distinctive and the music rolls along in prime sixties soul fashion. A couple of songs then run into each other, not quite maintaining the quality, before the closing 'Addicted' again reminds you of all that is good on display. Her voice sounds original and natural, the music is produced to perfection without sounding overly arranged, or too glossy, and the musical themes are instantly memorable.

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    this page last updated 2/09/07


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