Friday, April 13

Rave of the week - Amy Winehouse

23 yearz old and de the owner of the coolest voice around, Amy Winehouse creates gritty, urban soul/jazz that is as seductive as it's punchy.

Born and raised on the urban sounds of London, Winehouse at times sounds like a '60s jazz singer - her voice fits in modestly with the modern grooves to which she gives a distinctly urban feel. But this vocal prodigy also has an amazing appreciation of dynamics. Boredom is non-existent in the music. The lyrics are frank, direct, and at times humorous. This girl knows how to write a song.

What is remarkable about Winehouse is how mature and diverse her vocal talents are. Her voice morphs so much on songs, it feels like a vocal multiple personality disorder.

At age 23, a perennial bad girl whose continuing travails with alcohol have followed her everywhere, Winehouse might be trouble, but her jazz and soul inflected 60s sound is exceptional. Already hailed in the UK with a Brit for Best Solo Female Artist, her sophomore effort Back to Black is destined fer greatness.

On the up-tempo opening track "Rehab" - reportedly about an incident in which her management suggested she check herself in resulting in Winehouse parting ways with them - she snarls out a refusal: “No, no, no”.

On "Just Friends," she softens her voice visibly when recalling the good times and steels it when lamenting about how her lover’s two-timing is sucking quality time out of their affair.

Arguably her best work is on the title track where she captures the cloudy desolation of a hasty jilting. “Life is like a pipe. And I’m a tiny penny rolling up the walls inside”. You can read the fading of hope in the lyrics and hear it in her voice.

In fact, love and heartache are very much on her mind. She mines themes of betrayal and loneliness in Tears dry on their own and Wake up alone, but effortlessly changes gears from foot-tapping R&B to jazz-inflected soul between the two tracks. Throughout the CD, you get the feeling Winehouse can take the hard knocks with the best of them. But a sense of doomsday prevails. You’re not sure if she is learning her lessons; that it’s only a matter of time before her next personal disaster. It’s a deliberate play brought about by how she responds audaciously and ambiguously to driving events in her work.

Aiyo, if Amy Winehouse doesn't break through to the big time, then there is something wrong with the industry (But seriously, dunno whether her music is the type the typical average Singaporean can appreciate...). Her unique combination of jazz, soul, coupled with her magnificent voice, is truly something of greatness.

Winehouse ends the album with "Addicted." Thatz a good word to describe what her songs did fer me.

The bottom line: 3.5 out of 5 Stars