Saturday, May 05, 2007

CD Review No 4 - Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

I’ve come rather late to admiration of Amy Winehouse. Her publicity, as a somewhat wayward and unpredictable drunken starlet, preceded my exposure to her music. I saw her interviewed on TV recently, and was impressed by her self-assurance, she feels no need to apologise for who she is, or what she does. The subject matter of her songs ranges over relationship difficulties, drugs, drugs within relationships, sex, and dicks.

On Back to Black, with Mark Ronson’s production help, this albums style mixes Sixties Shangri La’s with Jamaican horn section, on the surface at least, it seems a stylised homage to a bygone pop era. However, anyone who can begin a song with ‘What kind of fuckery is this’ has got something interesting and provocative to sing about, this album excels at more than just pastiche. She’s taken a musical style classic and reinvigorated it with a modern zeitgeist. In the Sixties the women sang rather passively when their man left them. Winehouse is defiantly dismissive about ‘how he don’t mean dick to me’

I’ve just bought her first album, its musical style is like a more ballsy Norah Jones and its much clearer what her musical influences are. Jazz greats such as Sarah Vaughan and Soul chanteuse Minny Ripperton, explain the vocal authority and assurance in style that Winehouse effortlessly displays. I guess many an intoxicated evening has been spent singing along to her idols. It’s a very individual voice she has, subtle, pointed and poignant to order. Amy Winehouse is much much more than a size 00 clothes horse with tattoos and stacked black hair, she’s an extremely gifted song writer and consummate singer too.

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