Amy Winehouse: Lioness – Hidden Treasures – A Review
Producing an album when the singer is no longer with us always leads to worries. Was it done for the cash or were there viable songs that the public should hear? This album, despite it being mostly of covers, thanks to producer Salaam Remi, falls into the latter case as he insists this will not become “a Tupac situation” (eight posthumous releases and still counting). The title of the album suggests that there were ‘hidden songs’ the public had never heard of but this is not strictly true. Appearing on the album is the acoustic 2004 cover of the Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”. This featured on the soundtrack for the film – Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Also appearing is a cover of the jazz standard ‘Body & Soul’ with Tony Bennett, one of Winehouse’s final professional recordings, that can also be heard on the crooner’s latest album – Duets II.
That aside, this album has been produced to depict Amy’s progress from her raw but innocent early start as an eager-to-please teenager through to the slurred drink and drug ravaged fallen idol of her late twenties. The album is biopic of her rise and fall, via the songs. For instance, her version of The Girl From Ipanema, was recorded even before her first album, while her duet with Tony Bennett on the jazz classic Body & Soul is the last track she ever sang in a studio. Talking of duets, Amy sings along with rap superstar Nas on ‘Like Smoke’, which allows her voice to soar amongst the mellow Motown background of sound, whilst contrasting with the rappers vocals. ‘Between The Cheats’ gives us a glimpse into what Amy might have achieved if she had lived for longer, the 60′s upbeat Supremes type backbeat holding onto some really dark subject matter.
There is a cover of Ruby & the Romantics’ ‘Halftime’ which swings into action with the kind of sound that bought Amy so many fans in the first place. This is one of the best tracks on the album and you can imagine younger singers using it as inspiration for their up and coming careers. The song ‘Best Friends, Right’ has the typical blunt and confessional lyrics that we have come to love about Amy, “Someday I’ll buy the Rizzla, so you get the ‘dro,” she sings. We have oft heard her reference her idol Donny Hathaway in her previous songs and she sings here, perhaps as a homage to him, ‘A Song For You’, which he famously sung, by Leon Russell. Apparently Amy laid the track down when she was at the very height of her hard hitting partying and it was reported that she wept as she sang it.
What really comes across in this album is the pure raw emotion channeled into each song. The lyrics in ‘A Song for You’ give a sad premonition to the singers final days and life.
“And when my life is over,” Winehouse sings at its close, “remember when we were together/We were alone and I was singing this song for you.”
A great album, fitting as an homage to the late great singer.
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