Tribute to a troubled soul
THE release of British soul singer Amy Winehouse’s first posthumous album in time for Christmas should surprise no one.
But even the most cynical music scribe would admit it’s nice to hear her voice back on their itunes playlist so soon after her untimely death.
Lioness: Hidden Treasures is not her proper third album, it’s more a collection of odds and ends.
Fans will clamour for it and it’ll land atop the charts all over the globe.
It is a perfectly enjoyable album that leans heavily on cover versions.
And yet compared with Frank and Back to Black, it lacks the ‘‘ story’’ that made her debut and follow- up so enthralling.
Among the dozen songs there are some interesting nuggets. Just two tunes hint at the direction her third album might have taken.
Between the Cheats, most likely a tune about her ex- hubby, is a fabulous blend of retro and modern pop music.
Like Smoke gives a nod to Frank’s jazz- meets- rap style, with none other than New York legend Nas on guest vocals. The touching Body and Soul was her final studio recording, and a duet with Mr Tony Bennett no less. It is worth the price of admission alone.
Half Time stands out from the pack with a jazzy flavour and new drums by The Roots’ band leader Questlove, who was said to be in talks with Winehouse about a side project.
Winehouse’s cover of ’ 60s bossa- nova hit The Girl from Ipanema shows just how great her voice was at an early age. Strong, confident, unique. She was just 18 when she recorded this song – amazing.
Not as vital are the original versions of Tears Dry and Wake Up Alone or the ’ 68 version of Valerie, especially the latter. There are oodles of interpretations floating around on the Frank deluxe edition and Mark Ronson’s 2007 album Versions.
One of the album’s best songs is hidden away at the end, A Song for You. Written by Rock ’ n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee Leon Russell, this song is a prime example of an artist taking a great tune and making it her own. It’s a slow, painful plea to an estranged lover for forgiveness, it is way up Winehouse’s alley.
There are certainly better pop singers out there. More technically gifted vocalists, sure.
But few, if any, recently, are so drenched in pain and emotion and turmoil in every note.