Review Summary: Sure she's an admitted drug addict; but Back To Black is a clear example that that doesn't hurt her music ability. In fact it probably improves it.
Ah the paparazzi…the devious and ruthless subjects crawling from the dank underbelly in the world of celebrity scandals. The photographers often credited for documenting the downward spiral of celebrities through ruthless hunting and tracking of celebrities in their daily lives, following them, stalking them, just so they can score some big buck for themselves. The celebrity super-city that is Los Angeles is crawling with the papa-papa-razzi, waiting outside of nightclubs and even the celebrities own homes, just waiting for the perfect shot to sell to the tabloids. While these scandals exists, it must be taken into consideration that when one becomes a celebrity, part of the job is that your life is to be open and exposed to the public. This is true for almost any celebrity, no matter what they are famous for. Sometimes though, readers of the tabloids need to step back and look at the big picture, no not the picture of Britney Spears shaving her head, or Paris Hilton’s va-jayjay flash. The papa can take as many pictures as they want, but that does not take away from the celebrity’s talent.
A prime example of this is none other than the soulful Amy Winehouse, who in recent years has been featured in many magazines as the drugged up alcoholic with a beehive. She been to rehab and back which is quite the irony as the lead single for her sophomore album, Back To Black
is titled Rehab
. The singers declaration of most certainly not going to rehab, despite admitting to a drug and alcohol problem, “They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'/Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know know know/I ain't got the time and if my daddy thinks I'm fine.” The single, despite its dark undertones, is rather upbeat and sassy; featuring Winehouse’s easily recognizable 60’s style in vocals and music.
Back To Black
is essentially a “no hold back album” as it prominently speaks of Winehouse’s history of cheating and drugs, most prominently on the track appropriately titled, Addicted
. The song has a nice and easy swing tune over a slightly higher pitched tone of the singer’s voice as she sings extremely straightforward about her boyfriend smoking all of her weed. “When you smoke all my weed man /You gotta call the green man /So I can get mine and you get yours /Once is enough to make me attack /So bring me a bag and your man can come back /I'll check him at the door make sure he got green /I'm tighter than airport security teams.” While slightly humorous, Addicted
is not much of a stand out track in comparison to others on the album. The second single, You Know I’m No Good
is Winehouse’s ode to cheating. This song is laid back and relaxed feeling with a brush of smooth jazz on top with some of the best vocals featured here. She sings with that same sassy vibe, but this time with a hint of regret sprinkled over it, like a slight break in the singer’s tough exterior. “Upstairs in bed, with my ex boy/He's in a place, but I can't get joy/Thinking on you in the final throes/This is when my buzzer goes/Run out to meet you, chips and pita.”
Love, wither it be good or bad, is another common theme to go along with the drug and alcohol references on Back To Black
. Me and Mr. Jones
is the flipside of You Know I’m No Good
as it is not about a cheating relationship, but about Winehouse defending her relationship with the “Mr. Jones.” This is song uses the 60’s theme to its highest advantage, even the recording quality is done in a slight echoed way giving it a feel of that it was possibly recorded in the sixties with multiple high-pitched backup singers, which at first seems cheesy, but actually equals out to a great and inspirational song. Inspiration is not exactly what one would expect from a parent’s worst-dream child that is Amy Winehouse, but believe it or not Back To Black
is very moving because of its very straightforward message. The most powerful track is the ballad, Love Is A Losing Game
. The best way the emotion in this song can be described is that if You Know I’m No Good
was a crack in the singers tough exterior, Love Is A Losing Game
is what remains when that exterior is completely removed. The song features gentle strings, but primarily Winehouse’s voice is the focus. For the most part even the singer’s classic rough voice is drawn out smooth and clean, making for an excellent swing in the album flow. Although directly afterward a rebuttal is thrown down on the table with Tears Dry On Their Own
, what could be described as the “anti-ballad.” Naturally bring out an excited and upbeat Winehouse in contrast to the previous song.
When it comes down to it,Back To Black
is a record of great power, and it truly shows what Amy Winehouse can do, not just with her voice, but the lyrics she writes, and the emotion she shows is incredible. While still not perfect, it is what many artists these days try to imitate, but usually fail. Cracking down Back To Black
to its purest form shows that the album can be broken down into two main parts, “The Bad Girl” (Rehab, Addicted, You Know I’m No Good) and then “The Lover” (Love Is a Losing Game, Me and Mr. Jones, Tears Dry On Their Own), two very different personas that ultimately work beautifully.
“He walks away,
The sun goes down,
He takes the day but I'm grown,
And in your way, in this blue shade
My tears dry on their own,
I don't understand,
Why do I stress A man,
When there's so many bigger things at hand,
We could a never had it all,
We had to hit a wall,
So this is inevitable withdrawal,
Even if I stop wanting you,
A Perspective pushes true,
I'll be some next man's other woman soon,
I shouldn't play myself again,
I should just be my own best friend,
Not *** myself in the head with stupid men,”