Black is Black is Black is Black
It is nearly impossible to look at Amy Winehouse’s sophomore album without a cynical eye. After the British chanteuse’s infamously stormy year, lyrics to the hit single â€šÃ„ÃºRehabâ€šÃ„Ã¹ (â€šÃ„ÃºI wonâ€šÃ„Ã´t go, go, goâ€šÃ„Â¶â€šÃ„Ã¹) sounded eerily precognitive. Back to Black straddles a very fine line between art imitating life and vice versa, but Winehouse–with skillful production from Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi–navigates it like a tightrope with nary a false step along the way.Completely abandoning the jazz leanings of her debut Frank, an album condemned by the singer, Ronson and Remi cleverly wrap Blackâ€šÃ„Ã´s tales of love, loss, and regret in classic â€šÃ„Ã²60s soul, smoky R&B, and Spector girl-group harmonies. This is best exemplified in the sultry â€šÃ„ÃºMe and Mr. Jonesâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and the Marvin and Tammi-sampling â€šÃ„ÃºTears Dry on Their Own.â€šÃ„Ã¹ But this is no producerâ€šÃ„Ã´s record. The songs may sound universal in their composition, but the stories behind them belong to one woman.
ame Itâ€šÃ„Ã´s a testament to Winehouseâ€šÃ„Ã´s skills as a singer and songwriter that you believe what she is saying yet never feel too sorry for her. Justifying her commitment to a destructive relationship, â€šÃ„ÃºI drip for him tonightâ€šÃ„Ã¹ speaks volumes in â€šÃ„ÃºWake Up Alone.â€šÃ„Ã¹ She also complements these numbers with the closing â€šÃ„ÃºHe Can Only Hold Herâ€šÃ„Ã¹ (tellingly, the albumâ€šÃ„Ã´s only song written in the third person) to show that she may finally be ready and able to move on from the heartache.
Back to Black could have simply been another decent R&B album. Instead, its autobiographical feel casts Winehouse as a next generation Marianne Faithfull. Hereâ€šÃ„Ã´s hoping that sheâ€šÃ„Ã´ll continue preaching her broken English for years to come.