Friday, March 23, 2007

Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

There's a lot to be said for the beer test. As in, which of two people would you rather sit down over a beer with? Certainly this factor played some role in the last American presidential election, though whether of not that was good is completely inseparable from political presuppositions at this point.

But enough about politics. Here's the question for this review: given your choice between the following attractive, brunette, female, Jewish, pop musical stars, who would you rather have a beer with: a)Regina Spektor or b) Amy Winehouse? Now the smart money's on Spektor, because if the British tabloids are to be believed, Winehouse would probably finish off a case, and then belt you over the head with a bottle, just for the hell of it.

But to make judgements on such grounds is not always the best course of action. And just listening to this latest offering from Winehouse is enough to make me want to write a review of it. It's the sort of music that makes me want to use trite music review words, like "rollicking" and "infectious." But I'll refrain.

The music is obviously influenced by Ray Charles and his contemporaries, that era where jazz could still be heard beneath the rock. But there's a modern edge too. So yes, saxophones, piano, and a nod to Phil Spector on the production, but we've got drum loops too. And her voice is pure soul.

There are on iTunes the "Explicit" and the "Clean" versions of this record, which should tell you something about the lyrics. But either way, when the first words on the album are "they tried to make me go to rehab, an' I said no, no, no" you know this is probably not a girl you take home to mom, no matter how poetic she is. She is poetic though, and clever too, stating in the title track "we only said goodbye with words," implying the end of a relationship that was more. In "I'm no good" she is frank about infidelities of her own.

This is the blues, and Winehouse is writing what she lives. But it's hard not to hum along, and it's that invitation to share in her musical catharsis which makes this a great listen.


The Angry Medic said... ickle Nathan having an ickle crush then? :)

Heh. Just dropping by to say I've tagged you with the Thinking Blogger Award. Your posts really do make me think. You don't have to participate, but I'm still giving you the award - you deserve it.

Keep it up dude!

Nathan said...


Thanks for the tag though, I'm honored.

Sarah said...

I'd have to go with Amy Winehouse over Regina Spektor. I enjoy Spektor, but if I had to choose between the two I prefer the r&b groove of Winehouse's music. Plus Winehouse seems like the kind of person you want to hang out and drink with when you're looking for a crazy fun time.

Ryann said...

Sarah - I agree that Winehouse is the better artist, but she kinda scares me. :)

TAM - Thanks for awarding Nathan. He does deserve it. And your blog is great, too! Both of you provide excellent reading material when I'm bored at work.

Anonymous said...

Nate, I'm not gonna lie: I'm not impressed by her. I think she's marketed fairly well, what with the front page iTunes plug and all. But something about her sound doesn't ring true to me (is there any improvisational quality to her music, out of curiosity?). She's genre crossing, and great reference to the Ray Charles Era sound underneath (though she's in undeserved company with that reference). And a voice like that doesn't need a lot of complex harmony - it really can drive itself. Anyhow, her voice would be great if She wasn't so terrible. Those lyrics. It may be bluesy, but there's always good blues and ... well, you know.

So in short, my friend, I couldn't possibly have a drink with the woman because at some point I'd blurt out that I think she stinks.

amy winehouse fan said...
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