I started off by looking at Amy's official website (amywinehouse.com), and there was a fifteen minute video embedded there on the story of the recording of each song. At first I thought maybe I shouldn't watch this first, but I'm glad I did, because I'm sure I wouldn't have appreciated the album quite as much. Sure, a lot of it was talking her up and commemorating her in her death, but I think it helped to connect to her music a lot more to hear about the process, especially for someone who's not necessarily a fan. It got me excited for the album itself and made me sit up and listen a little more closely. Take a few minutes and look at it - it doesn't feel nearly as long as it seems like it will be:
Well now that I actually know and kind of care, let's do the track break-down thing!
"Our Day Will Come" is a nice way to start off this album. Amy Winehouse is such an enigma to me in every way, but as a female, and even human in general, and especially as a young 20-something, I can understand a lot of the frustration and even pain that comes with the territory. You have to keep believing that somehow you'll make it though, because otherwise you'll just be done for.
"Between The Cheats" is about cheaters and making it through the in-between times. Maybe it's this weird swing-blues thing she has going on, because combined with her whimsy whining I just... I just couldn't get into it that much in any way, but that was bound to happen for me on this album. Let's keep going.
"Tears Dry - Original Version" is a song that was originally recorded and released at a much faster pace. It's slowed down here and much more accessible. While it's still not something I'm as in to, I do love the soul in her usually pretty annoying voice.
The next track, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? - 2011" is indeed a cover, and again brings a totally different soul and feeling to the atmosphere. I think Amy was dealing with a lot of pain in one way or another, and certain songs really portray it so well. I'm actually incredibly excited for the way she covered this with a whole big band sound meets Dap Kings meets intense meaningful compulsion of voice... ahhh I just love it. "Can I believe the magic of your sigh?" And there's this fantastically interesting tango break about 3/4 in, which goes away just as you're getting annoyed with it. Nicely played Amy, nicely played.
"Like Smoke" was actually written for Nas, and features Nas, by Amy Winehouse. She was apparently a really huge fan to a point that she was giggly about working with a producer who had worked with him previously. I don't hate the track, but something makes me not enjoy it either. Maybe it's a little too breathy to me? Maybe I just don't care this time around?
I loved "Glee"'s version of "Valerie," so I was really excited to hear this track. "Valerie - '68 Version" did not disappoint me on bit. (Also, I'm starting to realize I'm flipping between liking and hating tracks, pretty much with every other one.) This was much more raw than I expected, and clearly an earlier recording. It was unpolished and really enjoyable like you'd get into the grove of at a lounge or dance hall or just jamming in a living room. Sweetness happening here for sure.
"The Girl From Ipanema" kicks off with that old cabana feel, and she does a cute job of covering a familiar oldie. Again, I don't hate it. But dear god I hate when she leaves her lower register. So whiney!! I love her style in some parts, but it's like listening to a little girl sing, and when I hear it alongside some of her much better stuff, I like this even less.
Ah, back into that lower range, simpler instrumentation, and more emotion. I'm biased I think, because these kind of songs, like "Half Time," are so much more enjoyable to me. I'm half-and-half on this out though, because she does that too-flowy thing with some notes that take me out of the emotional ebb I'm feeling at the beginning. Dang it.
"Wake Up Alone - Original Recording" already strikes me as interesting because of the note in the title. Simple brush on the drums, simple guitar chords giving a beat and melodic base, and the soul that I have been needing for a while. I think this is the most honest song so far on the album, and the one I feel the most for Amy because of. I get taken away by the track in swaying and enjoying it. This one's really just very nice.
"Best Friends, Right?" I wanted to like this when it opened. I really wanted to. And I think I would if someone else sang it. I warned you - I get annoyed by this girls' voice too easily, and I think this song is the epitome of it for some reason. Ugh, I hate myself for that comment a little.
I need to move on. Please let me like this next one. "Body And Soul" is the last song she ever recorded in the studio and it was with Tony Bennett. Well Amy, you have a hell of a way to go out. This song makes me realize what she was going for a little more when it comes to musical style. She almost seemed to try to be bringing a modern, unique sound to lounge and the standards' usual sound. Now, you have to take age and awkwardness out of the equation on this one, but otherwise, it's quite a nice arrangement. Grammy worthy? (Yes, it's nominated.) Maybe a little, at least for the surprise factor. Can't put it on my list though. I just got a giant slap from synthesizer as I wrote that sentence. :|
"A Song For You" was actually recorded in her house, and someone "luckily" pushed record as she was just messing around on her guitar, getting into it. She apparently completely broke down during it, getting so emotional. Now, that's something I learned from that first-mentioned video, and I am so happy I learned this beforehand, because I need a writer and/or singer to be emotionally connected to these kind of songs to enjoy it at all. The rain that starts it, along with the harp, is great, and the song itself is trippy enough to sway to and lose yourself in. I'm really very satisfied with this song and the fact you can't necessarily make out every word. Lose yourself before we lose you girl.
I didn't hate it! Here's stuff I wouldn't mine hearing again:
- "Our Day Will Come" -
- "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? - 2011" -
- "Valerie - '68 Version" -
- "Wake Up Alone - Original Recording" -
- "A Song For You" -
5/12 overall, and I may consider giving it another once-over. This definitely didn't make me a hardcore fan, but I would consider giving her other albums a shot, and would recommend this to a friend, not an enemy.
I liked her soul and emotion behind everything she did. Clearly, this girl did care a great deal about the music she put out into the world, and I always worried that she was just on a free ride because of her general weird aura. I have definitely stepped up in respect for her as a musician and am grateful for that opportunity.
What are your thoughts?? SHARE BELOW!! :D