Recent photographs of Amy Winehouse looking positively skeletal make it all the more remarkable this soulful, bassy voice comes from a white girl from Southgate.
Back to Black is the follow up to her 2003 debut, Frank, and continues in very much the same style, despite her best attempts to carve out an ‘edgier’ sound – hip-hop beats and (gasp) swearing in song titles do little to push Winehouse out of the musical abyss marked ‘easy listening’. As if to prove the point, Jonathan Ross named first single ‘Rehab’ record of the week on his Radio 2 show: it seems destined to enjoy success amongst throwers of dinner parties and buyers of James Blunt albums.
In its favour, however, Mark Ronson’s production is subtle and at times genuinely reminiscent of the classic Ella Fitzgerald/Billie Holiday sound aped by Winehouse’s voice. Decent production alone, however, does not a great album make, and any chance of excitement is all but over when ‘Rehab’ draws to a close three and half minutes in. Her press release claims that this is her ‘progress from girlhood to womanhood’, but without any real outstanding moments, Back to Black sees Winehouse’s music skip straight to middle age.
Reviewed by Steve Gardner