Title - 'Back To Black' (Republic/Universal)
Artist - Amy Winehouse
Like a time machine back to the 50s and early 60s, Amy Winehouse's stunning second CD "Back To Black" takes us back to the black music of that time, soul, before Motown perfected the formula to emasculate it for mass consumption. This is the soul of Dinah Washington, Lavern Baker, Betty Everett and Bettye LaVette (to name a few), raw emotion with depth, the pain and disappointment of relationships not glossed over and the inner strength that comes from being born a woman. And she's got soul in spades, always authentic and never sounding imitative or ironic.
Any CD that starts with the line "They wanted me to go to rehab, I said "No, no no," let's you know that a strong woman is in control and Amy Winehouse has the strength of personality, clarity of vision and sheer vocal prowess to grab your ears and heart from that first line and hold it all the way through 11 brilliant songs. My personal favorites are "Wake Up Alone," "You Know I'm No Good," "Addicted," "Love Is A Losing Game" and the classic title song "Back To Black" sung by The Other Woman as her man prepares to go home once and for all.
I must take special notice of the arrangements for they are simultaneously nostalgic and thoroughly modern at the same time (are those tubular bells I hear?) and always engage while never overwhelming the singer as so much that masquerades as soul these days does. Not that Amy Winehouse could possibly be overwhelmed - her vocal chops are finely honed and totally evocative and moving.
A great CD. With Joss Stone preparing to take her soul into the 21st Century with next week's new release, we needed a new champion of real soul and I believe that Amy Winehouse will still being listened to in 50 years just as we are listening to her musical foremothers today, 50 years on.