The Music is Dead

Posthumous albums come with baggage. And this one crumbles under the pressure.

Written by Suanshu Khurana | Published: January 21, 2012 3:15:14 am

Let’s admit it. Posthumous albums come with baggage. And this one crumbles under the pressure. Amy Winehouse’s Lioness: Hidden Treasures,put together by her producers Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson,gives us the late singer’s clean and fine-tuned voice. We actually have to hunt for her trademark twangy touches and the vintage soul sound she was (and is) loved for. Since the producers have picked tracks recorded before Back to Black (2006),Winehouse ends up sounding like an upcoming musician in many songs and not like the technically proficient musician we knew her as.

For someone whose decisions in her personal life were perhaps questionable,her choices in music were remarkably vigilant. In fact,if Winehouse would have been around for the final recording of Lioness: Hidden Treasures,she would have probably yanked out many tracks from it.

This album is Winehouse’s most cordial,an adjective she would have least expected. It lacks her smug charm and raspy wistfulness. The cover version of bossa nova classic The Girl from Ipanema is lounge-ish and simply doesn’t work. The cover of the ‘30s jazz standard,Body and soul,rendered as a sombre duet with Tony Bennett,is a tear-jerker,and well,Winehouse steals it away from Bennett,a master of the genre.

Flashes of her swagger appear in the opening song,the cover of reggae number Our day will come. And Will you still love me tomorrow,cover of the famous Carole King song,is a brilliant surprise.

Between the cheats reminds us of the singer’s infamous addiction to drugs,as she mumbles through the song,her words getting lost in the background chorus. Best friends right is too juvenile to be a Winehouse track. A cover of Zutons’ Valerie is interesting but lacks Winehouse’s scornful touches.

Like smoke,a tribute by rapper Nas,is layered with Winehouse’s vocals. Recorded after her death,it is a sweet track as Nas raps,“Why did God take the homie,I can’t stand it”.

Half time is the most charming track of the album. Recorded way back in 2002,it is a brilliant song,with Winehouse in her element.

Lioness: Hidden Treasures has moments of the singer’s trademark slur and blunt lyrics set to retro music. But the album disappoints with not enough rawness Winehouse was so capable of. Buy it for nostalgia,but if you love Winehouse’s music,stick to Back to Black.

suanshu.khurana@expressindia.com

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