The U.K. has been going ga-ga for Amy Winehouse for a few years now. Apparently, her sultry, swear-filled ballads and drunken antics have proven irresistible to both the tabloids and the ears of British listeners. Her sophomore album, Back to Black, proves all the hype directed towards Winehouse’s music is deserved, though somewhat misplaced.
Quite simply, it isn’t Winehouse who deserves attention, but her band. Back to Black is made up of an irresistible blend of soul burners and nods towards lounge jazz. The songs are slick, sexy, expertly played and entirely refreshing. Even though the actual music composing her albums is often overlooked in favour of Winehouse’s image, Back to Black features some of the best neo-soul backing tracks being made today.
What drags the album down is Winehouse herself. Though her voice is unique, its phlegmy, smoke-drenched qualities become grating after a few songs. Equally as tiring is her need to make sure everyone knows how much of a bad girl she is by swearing gratuitously on almost every track and making repeated references to how much she drinks. Whether it’s genuine or not, her boasting still feels contrived, leaving Winehouse sounding like a sadder Avril Lavigne.
This isn’t to say Winehouse doesn’t have any charm; she just needs to be digested in small doses instead of full-length albums. Her band on the other hand, should ditch Winehouse and get their own record contract immediately.