She may be a bit of a trainwreck in real life, constantly in the tabloids over in native England (heckling Bono, throwing up mid-song from being sozzled, hauling off and punching fans), but Amy Winehouse has an absolutely fantastic sound that I find immensely appealing.
Raised in a family of jazz musicians in Southgate, London, Winehouse channels some of the great female singers of decades past, with a modern beat-laden sound and feisty lyrics. Take a listen to the lead track from her 2006 sophomore album, Back to Black:
Rehab – Amy Winehouse
“Tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no…”
Reminds me of the lyrical no-nonsense of Ernestine Anderson singing her heart out in this song, written in 1922 (minus the part condoning domestic violence; Winehouse takes a distinctly opposite tack):
T’ain’t Nobody’s Bizness (If I Do) – Ernestine Anderson
Winehouse also carries a feeling of long-lost vocal tapes being aired out in front of jazzy new remixes:
You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse
reminds me of something like this
Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby (Rae and Christian remix)
Dinah Washington — from the excellent Verve Remixed series
This album is feisty and confident (listen to more songs here), and Winehouse’s sound is full of ole’-fashioned girl group goodness. With tinges of gospel, jazz, and chanteuse soul, Back to Black comes highly recommended when it gets U.S. release on Dusty Groove in mid-March 2007.