Amy, the distant soul of the Jazz age – the beautiful lone singer creating cinematic and exuberant tracks. Amy Winehouse brought jazz back into a world that had succumbed to numbing manufactured pop sensations, through the extension of her albums – Frank (2003), Back To Black (2006) and the posthumous Lioness: Hidden Treasures in (2011).
Amy Winehouse was a young girl embodied by the satisfaction of 1960s Motown blues, stating that it was the music that created the cinema for the ages. Brought up in North London, Amy found herself through those records; she embodied herself in that time frame. It wasn’t until she found her brother’s guitar and began “toying” around that she decided to pick one up herself at 14 – then it began, the obsession with music and the state of being pulled away from the destruction in modern life.
Winehouse was kept as the “recording industry secret”, recording tracks for EMI and Virgin and providing something that the audiences of the ’90s and ’00s were starved of. Ultimately her talent would become both a blessing and a curse.
‘Stronger Than Me’ (2003) was Remi, producer at EMI, and Amy’s first single together – which led her to winning the Best Contemporary Song at the Ivor Novello Awards. The track is a kick-back to a supposed previous ex-partner in which she sings “’Cause I’ve forgotten all of young love’s joy/Feel like a lady, and you my lady boy”. Naming your ex a lady boy is something else for the audience, and this is what made it such a highlight. The almost R’n’B beat is something which sets itself apart from other tracks, and the exhortation of Amy’s voice to the rhythm shows that she wasn’t just a women with a voice – but a machine.
‘Take The Box’ (Demo) and ‘Fool’s Gold’ (B-side) are beautiful tracks that sometimes seem misplaced. The former is a stunning aspect of the album and one of the most insecure tracks by Amy, the almost volatile, vulnerable demo takes a step backon the album – the chorus is the most open she had been, the overlaying backing vocals bring back the elegance of the ’60s girl groups (The Supremes) that she admired so much. ‘Fool’s Gold’ is once again an elegantly constructed track which highlights the abilities that Amy had in both song writing and transferring her voice through the generations.
Winehouse showed that she was not only the mistress of the Jazz genre, but she could move stunningly through many more, with Reggae and Ska seemingly the go-to. After the cover of Toots & the Maytals’ (most notably covered by The Specials in 1979) ‘Monkey Man’, she began to show how successive her voice was. A different Amy was beginning to be shown, an Amy which was something other than the “celebrity” the media had both presented and equally ruined.
Lioness: Hidden Treasures brought together B-sides and demos that had been recorded before her death. Released on Island Records, it was in aid of the Amy Winehouse Foundation, with ‘Our Day Will Come’ released as the first single from the album. The track is an almost nostalgic and heart-wrenching in the way that you can hear that Winehouse was hoping for something different and something which could take her away, the lyrics “Our dreams have magic/Because we’ll always stay” is a romantic track which suggests the dramatic falling of love of two beings that aren’t safe in this world.
‘Tears Dry’ (Original Version) was released in 2011; the original ballad version is something so much more than its previously changed version, ‘Tears Dry On Their Own’. Perhaps it’s the inducing passion that can be heard in her voice – a more emotional take on the track which can be seen as one of Amy’s best tracks.