Blues, Beats and Back to Black

Back to Black (2006) Amy Winehouse.

By Jenna Pantalone

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Although Back to Black, released in 2006 on Island Records, is Amy Winehouse’s second studio album, it is the first album to catapault her into the spotlight and achieve mainstream success, winning five grammy awards and achieving critical acclaim. It is also her first collaboration with Mark Rosnon, who works his magic as producer of the album.

The album opens with Winehouse?s first hit and the album?s most famous song, ?Rehab?, a catchy upbeat track despite its controversial subject matter. As the listener, can?t help but anticipate what will come next, wondering how she will top such an opening. She does not disappoint and in the end, neither does Back to Black.

Track listing:

01. Rehab
02. You Know I’m No Good
03. Me & Mr. Jones
04. Just Friends
05. Back to Black  
06. Love Is a Losing Game.
07. Tears Dry on Their Own
08. Wake Up Alone
09. Some Unholy War
10. He Can Only Hold Her
11. Addicted

The lyrics are deep and powerful and as the listener, you cannot help feel empathy for Amy?s plight in tracks such as ?Wake up Alone?, a sad and slow post-break up ballad.

His face in my dreams seizes my guts/ He floods me with dread/Soaked in soul/ He swims in my eyes by the bed/Pour myself over him/Moon spilling in/And I wake up alone/And I wake up alone?

However, it is the variation that makes Back to Black so catchy. Of the eleven tracks, no two sound remotely the same.

For even with its pattern of gloomy subject matter (Winehouse?s lyrics reflect her personal experiences with sex, drugs, alcoholism and broken relationships), every second song has a catchy upbeat to it that prevents it being just another blues ballad, such as ?Tears dry on their own?, which samples the backing music for Marvin Gaye?s ?Ain?t no mountain high enough?. Other tracks that stand out are the title track (Back to Black) with its haunting melody and ?He can only hold her?, in which Amy?s powerful voice stands out most.

Between Winehouse?s strong voice and powerful lyrics and Mark Rosnon?s excellent producing, Back to Black is an awe-inspiring collection of music and its success is justified. It?s a shame that Winehouse?s great musical talent, has been overshadowed in the media by the personal problems and drug-use that make this album so personal and yet beautifully sad at the same time.

 

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