Lionness: Hidden Treasures
REVIEW BY: Richard Fulco
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/29/2011
How does an artist follow her masterpiece? Amy Winehouse squandered the opportunity. As the troubled singer plunged deeper into addiction - eventually passing away last July at twenty-seven - she failed to get her act together long enough to record the follow-up to 2006’s Back to Black.
Lioness: Hidden Treasures, the first posthumous compilation of Winehouse’s music, is a hodgepodge of outtakes, demos, covers and unreleased tracks. Some of the recordings precede the singer’s debut effort, Frank (2003), while others are a reflection of her work as recently as 2011. The album is no masterpiece, but Winehouse’s talent should not be overshadowed by her notoriety.
On “Our Day Will Come,” the eighteen-year-old diva delivers a glorious, effortless vocal over a smooth reggae rhythm. “Our Day Will Come” might be the record’s most powerful track as it depicts a genuine, budding talent ready to blossom.
Like all truly great artists—Billie Holiday comes to mind—Winehouse masterfully transforms her substance abuse, depression and anguish into a formidable work of art. The result: Back To Black. So it’s no coincidence that the songs from that period solidify the record. The original versions of “Tears Dry on Their Own” and “Wake Up Alone” are slower, more mournful than the tracks on Back To Black and capture Winehouse’s introspective side.
Not everything on Lioness: Hidden Treasures is a treasure, however.
Two completed songs, “Between The Cheats” and “Like Smoke,” were intended for the third album that never came to fruition. The fact that both songs were recorded back in 2008 and haven’t been released until now might be an indication that Winehouse wasn’t particularly thrilled with them.
The songstress roars on most of Lioness: Hidden Treasures. On the recycled standards “Girl From Ipanema,” “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and “Body And Soul,” her duet with Tony Bennett, the chanteuse is in top form. But on “A Song For You” Winehouse delivers a virtually incomprehensible lyric that will remind the listener that she was in profound trouble.
Amy Winehouse’s unorthodox style and individuality were a breath of fresh air. In a world that embraces superficial and commonplace pop stars, Winehouse’s music will endure because in the end talent always prevails.
Lioness: Hidden Treasures spans a promising career that was cut down in its prime, and will leave you wanting more—another masterpiece from the soulful singer, for instance, or at least another compilation album.