Justice not done to talent
Lioness: Hidden Treasures has been publicised as Amy Winehouse’s third album – a bold claim, considering it is largely comprised of old recordings that didn’t make it onto her first two releases.
The first track, a cover of 60s classic Our Day Will Come, is heart- breaking to listen to in the wake of 27- year- old Winehouse’s untimely death in July.
Her voice is pure and sometimes girlish; the lyrics are full of optimism: ‘‘Our day will come / And we’ll have everything’’.
Many of the tracks are familiar but different enough to be interesting.
An early recording of Tears Dry on Their Own stands out: it is slower and more worldweary than the upbeat version that appeared on Back to Black.
But the real treasures are Winehouse’s previously unheard compositions, Between the Cheats (‘‘My husband is the finest handsome hustler / And he still makes this housewife blush’’) and the jazzy, haunting Half Time.
They are as strong as anything on Back to Black; they alone make the album worth purchasing.
There are a few missteps: Body and Soul, a collaboration with Tony Bennett and the album’s first single, is actually one of the weaker tracks.
The pairing with rapper Nas on Like Smoke is awkward and Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow is almost ruined by an insistent marchingband drumbeat.
So does Lioness hold its own against Frank and Back to Black?
Not quite, if only because half the tracks are covers.
Winehouse’s lyrics were what set her apart: sardonic, witty, raw and selfdeprecating, they made audiences take notice.
While she owed much of her sound to 60s soul music, jazz and reggae, her provocative lyrics ( like the immortal ‘‘They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no’’) breathed new life into these genres.
Winehouse’s writing took her beyond the realm of a novelty throwback act, and that originality is lacking on much of Lioness.
But the voice
jaw- dropping, the familiar songs are still exciting, and the new songs are mostly excellent.
Lioness showcases the breadth of Winehouse’s talent, and reminds us just how tragic a loss her death was.
SUBTLE REMINDER: Amy Winehouse’s Lioness: Hidden Treasures is a reminder of her talent.