I miss Amy Winehouse. I had no idea how much until I heard her last gift to us, Lioness: Hidden Treasures, a collection closer in spirit to the jazzy Frank than her major debut Lioness: Hidden Treasures, a collection of covers that puts her true talent on display one last time on a grand stage. Earlier this year, Mayer Hawthorne dropped a beautifully composed album of music inspired by classics of the Motown era that begged for a superior vocalist. This collection of songs is infused by Winehouse with a spirit all her own that at times supplants the power of the original compositions.The album commences with a ska-tinged rendition of “Our Day Will Come,” an angelic tale of optimism and patient love. The soft male background vocals are butten on the bread of the organ-tinged beat and Amy’s forceful voice pushes the song forward. The 50′s flavored “Between the Cheats” with its piano stabs, saxophone rhythm and doo wop motion make you think you’re having lunch at Rydell High with Danny Sandra Dee.
Amy takes it to 60′s soul with her rendition of the original version of “Tears Dry,” the ballad version of “Tears Dry On Their Own” from 2007′s Back to Black. Strings beautifully moved the song slowly forward until it pumps the breaks with abrupt musicality. The always relevant tail of a fool in love and the eventual heartbreak we all never see coming until it hits is well handled by Winehouse, whose voice (wo)man handles every twist and thurn the beat provides. Amy adds a dramatic touch to the Shirelles’ immortal 1960 standard “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” This version is slower, with more brass accents and more abrupt than the original, but Amy adds more vocal gymnastics than the original.
Friend and collaborator Nas drops two blistering verses on “Like Smoke” with reference to his failed marriage, the Occupy Wall Street movement, Winehouse’s death and the global economy with a smooth swagger that only he can deliver. Mr. Tony Bennet is immaculate on “Body and Soul,” sounding as crisp and clear as he ever haswith a great and masculine energy that is so lacking in today’s music.
Remi re-energizes the classic “Girl From Ipanema,” exchanging the standard’s mellow lead vocals for Amy’s more forceful delivery. It changes the emotional identity of the song and dependong on your temperament it’s solid but too much away from the original spirit of the song. Similarly, Amy’s rendition of the Donny Hathaway classic, “A Song For You” is missing a little flavor. Winehouse is well-versed in jazz, but she doesn’t have that “bottom”. Necessary to carry the proper emotion for this song.
As a total package, Lioness: Hidden Treasures is just that. A snapshot of an Amy from a simpler era. Her voice reeks of emotional intelligence and an understanding of music well beyond her tragically shortened years. If you are a fan of music, your collection is incomplete without this album.
Out of 5
Follow Us on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/planetill
Follow Odeisel on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/odeisel
Join Us on the Planet Ill Facebook Group for more discussion
Follow us on Networked Blogs