Amy Winehouse ‘Lioness: Hidden Treasures’ Album Review
Amy Winehouse’s life was tragically cut short when she was found dead in July of 2011. The talented singer had one of those distinct and evocative voices that conveys the pain, vulnerability, and sorrow that seems inherent to the best blues/jazz singers. In the capable and loving hands of producers Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson, a posthumous album of Winehouse’s work has now been released entitled Lioness: Hidden Treasures. But it should be noted that there are only two original tracks and the other songs include alternate versions of singles and plenty of notable covers.
As I listened to the tracks on Lioness, I couldn’t help but feel as if there was something dispiriting about the last release we’ll see from Winehouse, as many of the tracks feel as if the passion has been sucked dry and the air from the room is receding. The swing and swagger of her earlier work is missing from this album. The cover of Leon Russell’s track “A Song For You” is particularly heartbreaking in the aftermath of Winehouse’s death, as she croons in uncharacteristically softer tones those iconic lyrics that ring full of despair and sadness: “When my life is over/Remember when we were together/And I was singing this song for you.” And her reggae version of the Ruby & The Romantics hit “Our Day Will Come” hits a sad note when you consider, in retrospect, the ultimate futility that resulted from a hopeful and optimistic lyric. Listen below:
The standout tracks in which Winehouse sounds like the best version of herself are on the following covers: the Zutons’ “Valerie” and Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” While Ronson and Remi have worked with Winehouse in the past, in the end they can’t quite prevent Lioness from sounding cobbled together. Winehouse was loved because she was in your face, profane, unapologetic, blunt, and confident; unfortunately, those qualities don’t quite shine through when she covers songs like “The Girl from Ipanema.” That is not to say this album doesn’t flow and Winehouse’s unique voice isn’t still appealing. It does and it is, but not on the same level as her prior albums.
For the casual fan, you may want to pass on this album and remember Winehouse from some of her better and more original work. But for diehard aficionados, the chance to hear any additional Winehouse material may be too good to pass up. Either way, there is no denying that the world has lost a true talent. This point is made totally evident when watching Amy’s version of “Valerie” below: