One of the best UK albums of the year
Matt Harvey 2006
There are two clear traditions of ‘diva’ in soul music. On one side there’s Diana Ross – and her natural heir, Beyonce – all immaculate polish and surface. And on the other there are the likes of Etta James – a woman whose music reeks of desire and emotion. It’s to this ‘Dark Soul’ tradition that Amy Winehouse aspires - she’s certainly got the voice for it.
And the music. The much-praised opening track, Rehab, comes across like an obscure northern soul gem, riddled with pathos and melodrama. In fact none of the music here sounds like it was made after 1967.
Much of the rest of this pleasingly short album - 11 three-minutes-or-so tracks – goes on to explore the joyful misery of being young, messy and in love/lust. And Amy doesn’t paint a particularly pretty picture of herself; she plays the cuckold on Just Friends, and gets caught out by her "lickle carpet burns" on the fabulous I’m No Good.
But hey, she suffers for her sins. The title-track, owing much to the sonic heritage of Phil Spector and Scott Walker, is a tortured monster of a track - Amy displaying the sort of vocal depth that Marc Almond has always dreamed of.
The second half of the album isn’t quite as good as the first, but that’s a minor gripe. This is one of the best UK albums of the year, with the added advantage that you'll be able to pick it up at the local supermarket checkout...