Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Amy Winehouse - Back To Black

This album was released during the female takeover in 2006, where we saw notable releases by Lily Allen and Adele. Whilst Adele took to the Soft Rock style, Lily Allen blending Grime and Pop, Amy Winehouse took to blending Soul and R&B with a key emphasis on keeping it Poppy and commercially successful.

What we have is an album full of Saxophone and distinctive lyrics, which raises Winehouse's vocals to a completely different level compared to any singer within this era. With production being covered by Mark Ronson, it was obvious this album would reach heights. I first heard the album on a Saturday afternoon, sat in the back garden of my local pub. I can only recall listening to Rehab and Back To Black, as they were both stand alone tracks, but in general, the image and original release led to a great positive public reaction. 

Winehouse wrote the majority of songs, with the title track written in partnership with Ronson and one song giving credit to the mastermind behind 'Aint No Mountain High Enough'. Which Ronson samples for 'Tears Dry On Their Own'. The writing focuses on personal topics related to Amy's life such as drug use and a relationship with 'Blake' who was serving a prison sentence at the time.

Orchestral instrumentals really do form the album, with a very basic use of percussion used to push the tracks along. The focus for me is Amy's lyrics and strong vocals. It isn't an album by an XFactor winner, the songs are written and performed by Winehouse, her emotions are clearly portrayed to great effect. One great example would be in her song Wake Up Alone, 'I stay up clean the house, at least I'm not drinking. Run around just so I don't have to think about thinking.'

Key tracks for me have always been Rehab, the title track, Tears Dry On Their Own and You Know I'm, No Good. Of course, these are the singles.. But these are just superior to the lackluster second half of the album. It has little filler as such, but it lacks in originality and direction at some points which is a big criticism here. It's radio friendly and touches upon some controversial topics which later lead to the downfall of Amy Winehouse as a recording artist and performer. Ignoring her event less last years of life and final fall, Winehouse released an album worthy of a spot in British music.


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