Album Of The Week - Amy Winehouse - Back To Black
Updated: Aug 22, 2019
We turn our attention to something a little more soulful from last week's Oasis, bringing us to the late and great Amy Winehouse, with her 2006 seminal album Back To Black.
I've found myself listening to a lot of Amy Winehouse recently, delving back into the music of my childhood. Songs from Back To Black soundtracked my earlier years so it's brilliant to take a retrospective look at one of the jazzier records in my collection.
Following debut Frank, Winehouse turned her attention to the girl-groups of the fifties and sixties and infused her amazing vocals with strings and brass to create some truly magical. Rehab, the album's lead single, will go down as some of her finest work, taking inspiration in part from some of the last century's most timeless vocalists and acting as a fulfilling opening.
You Know I'm No Good is brassier than its predecessor, with a cleaner sound than Rehab putting it in a different league. Its rhythmic drums and jazzy bass make for a brilliant song overall. Me & Mr Jones and Just Friends both exhibit this inspiration from fifties and sixties girl-groups and these two tracks wouldn't sound out of place being sung by Diana Ross of The Supremes. They're both bouncy with some lovely harmonies and light drumming giving the tracks plenty of rhythm and drive.
Love Is A Losing Game is a change of pace compared to the quicker opening, with Winehouse's emotions taking centre stage and in two and a half minutes, we get a real sense of her feelings perfectly. Complementing this are the light guitar notes and the strings during verses. Tears Dry On Their Own returns to the soulful sounds experienced on the start of the record with woodwind and horn instruments providing a substantial backbone for one of the more well-known songs.
Wake Up Alone is an obscurity by comparison to some of the more commercialised songs at the start. It's a lot more sincere than its predecessors, evoking true emotion in a powerful vocal from Winehouse. The influence from girl groups such as The Supremes or The Shirelles is evident with backing vocals giving a well-rounded sound, along with the bass in the background providing some depth. The closing track, He Can Only Hold Her, with its overriding bass tones ends the record on a rather funky note. It's jazzy, groovy and facilitates a much higher tempo.
Overall, Back To Black, whilst spawning some of Amy Winehouse's more commercial tracks, also features a fair amount of lesser-discovered obscurities that make for a fantastically complete record. It's one of the best albums of the last decade hands down.
More musical magnificence to come next week!