It is Halloween and, perhaps appropriately, Amy Winehouse is Back To Black...
The album is out and it is amazingly good - as all top music reviewers have been saying - but what is it about this album that makes it so different to Frank in 2003? Yes it is slightly more polished, and it is certainly more consistent in style (but see below) and perhaps also better produced, but is it really such as a big departure from Frank?
I think not, and I'm rather pleased too. Frank was critically praised, nominated for a '2004 Brit Award' and even won her an 'Ivor Novello Award' for songwriting in 2004. It was regarded then as something slightly off the mainstream, and it didn't sell in vast quantities (though enough to have recently gone 'platinum' in the UK!), but the concept had much promise. Island Records clearly agreed and didn't attempt to fix anything that wasn't broken. In fact it seems they allowed the fixing of the few things that were, mostly by interfering less and in particular by not meddling with the album's production. This appears to have been a big issue with Frank and she claims that, although she loves to perform the tracks from it, she can't stand listening to the album. Having heard Amy perform live I can believe that; Back To Black sounds much more authentic and this may also account for it's consistency.
There is I suspect also a bit of duplicity involved. Popular taste has been moving in the direction of her music, indeed live music in general, in the intervening time and both the label and the magazine reviewers have responded accordingly:
The Voice of 2007. There's none better. - MOJO and Contender for 'Album of the Year' - NME.
That all seemed fairly obvious to me three years ago, hence my post last week that included my