ALBUM TITLE: Back to Black ARTIST: Amy Winehouse VINYL STATUS: New 2006 was an eventful year – Borat made his feature film debut, Sadam Hussein was executed, and Amy Winehouse released her second (and tragically final) album. And now over a decade on, 'Back To Black' is still just as spectacular and just as defiant, if not more so after the singer’s untimely demise in 2011.
Winehouse’s brassy lilt oozes over a collage of soul, R&B and a hint of Motown, shifting from her earlier jazzy roots seen in her debut album 'Frank' (2003). If left in the hands of a squeaky clean starlet, the themes of love and romantic entanglement throughout 'Back to Black' would come off as contrived; but the tattooed and tattered Winehouse injects her trademark wry wit and brashness to full effect – this is no damsel in distress, and she relishes her emotional scars.
In retrospective irony, the album immediately kicks off with Winehouse brazenly declaring “They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no” ('Rehab'), before weaving a sassy yet bittersweet spell, particularly seen in the horn heavy 'You Know I’m No Good' and grittier titular track 'Back to Black'.
With a healthy sprinkling of samples, including the instantly recognisable intro from the soul classic 'Ain’t No Mountain High Enough' on 'Tears Dry on Their Own', the slurred seduction of Amy Winehouse combined with the masterful production from Mark Ronson results in a modernised retro love note with a fist.
The album would eventually lead to her snagging five wins at the 2008 Grammys (which Winehouse could not attend due to a rehab stint), and is still hailed as a modern masterpiece by music critics today. And while it may only be a minor consolation to a tragic loss of talent, the legacy that is 'Back To Black' certainly still does justice to a very gifted and damaged artist.
LABEL: Island Records GENRE(S): Soul/R&B RELEASE DATE: October, 2006
BY TIANA SPETER