Sunday, 11 December 2011
REVIEW: AMY WINEHOUSE-LIONESS: HIDDEN TREASURES
Amy's legacy lives on.
Just months after great British singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse's tragic death comes her posthumous album. Still, fans needn't worry. This isn't another case of people cashing in like with the case of Michael Jackson post-death merchandising. Instead this is more like rapper Tupac's post-death releases. With her producer partners manning the boards, 'Lioness: Hidden Treasures' continues this sublime singers lasting legacy that still has so much to give after a short life, much like the late, great Shakur. Mark Ronson, Salaam Remi and Amy's family have done great work in producing a cohesive, concise collection for this album.
Like 'Body and Soul', the classic collaboration with iconic crooner Tony Bennett that was her last work but also her greatest. Standing and singing proudly next to a real legend she bares her all and it's worthy of the Grammy award that should in all rightness come with the nomination. She struck a chord and touched Bennett's heart and soul and it's clear to hear on this beautiful, traditional record. This delightful duet was meant to happen.
The second and third singles ('Our Day Will Come' and 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow') are further examples of Amy's greatness. They prove that not only did she sing like a throwback of blues singers from decades back, but that she wrote like them too. This is further evident on the creative and tongue-in-cheek titled 'Between The Cheats' or the haunting 'Like Smoke'. This collaboration with Remi's frequent collaborator and friend Nas has the legendary makings of the iconic rapper and our singers status. As Winehouse's spirit lingers on the track, she hums; "Like smoke, I hung around in the unbalance/Whoa, ohhhh", while Nas exhales rhyme totes that take this track higher, rapping; "Y’all know the story, y’all know the commentary/I kick the narrative, this is legendary/The good Samaritan, hood thespian/Like a polygamist, with a twist." Another duet leads to another classic.
Just like when Amy beautifully covers the classic 'The Girl from Ipanema' but with a cool, modern twist. Or Leon Russell's 'A Song For You', which Amy owns and wears with pride, before ending with a nice tribute to soul legend Donny Hathaway. This is the perfect closer to a fitting album that opens up new favourites like the perfect blues number 'Wake Up Alone', the love tormented lament 'Best Friends, Right?', or the Remi produced 'Half Time'. Still the 'Hidden Treasures' really hit gold on the movingly, blues beautiful 'Tears Dry On Their Own', which evokes all the purity and pain of Winehouse's songwriting art. The 'Lioness' also reveals more of her pride on the perfect ''68 Version' of Mark Ronson's 'Valerie', which is stripped down to it's bare, beautiful essentials and in some way is better than the original.
Sure after the classic 'Back To Black' and Winehouse's incredible career this album has a tough act to follow. Still this album shows it has the strength. Who knows how Amy would have wrote this chapter of her career if she was still here. Still with her friends and family handling creative control it probably would have sounded a lot like this and this is what it's important. It's not just Amy's legacy that is kept on record here, it's her dignity too. You couldn't imagine a tribute more beautiful. Even with her passing she says it best herself. TIM DAVID HARVEY.