Fitting tribute to a legend
Amy Winehouse's untimely death in July left a gaping hole in the music world. Few artists before or since match her distinctive style, stellar vocals and honest lyrics. As expected, a posthumous album has been released, a tribute to the talented yet deeply troubled singer.
Lioness: Hidden Treasures features 12 covers, previously unreleased tracks and reworked originals compiled by long-time friends Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, co-producers on her 2006 breakout Back to Black.
The album is a mixed bag. Winehouse's contralto shines on the nostalgic journey to the 60s - big hair and all - in the slowed-down Shirelles cover Will You Still Love Me.
But Like Smoke, which features gifted rapper and close friend Nas, is a letdown. Nas is smooth, but lyrically not what you'd expect from the self-styled Nastradamus. Her smoky vocals are soulful, but the song doesn't feel like a unified whole: for example, some of Nas' lyrics refer to Occupy Wall Street, which began months after her death.
Winehouse more than holds her own in Body and Soul, a duet with jazz legend Tony Bennett which is surely an accurate prediction of what Motown would have sounded like if it continued.
This is no Back to Black - few records could match that - but Hidden Treasures is an essential listen for any Winehouse fan, a deserving tribute to the name and face that grace the album cover.