Quick Spins: Amy Winehouse’s ‘Lioness: Hidden Treasures’

December 5, 2011
Amy Winehouse
Lioness: Hidden Treasures

Because Amy Winehouse was nowhere close to completing a follow-up to her breakout 2006 release “Back to Black” when she died last summer, “Lioness: Hidden Treasures,” unlike many posthumous sets, doesn’t provide a road map to a last album that never was.

Instead, it’s a collection of odds and ends, of demos and covers and assorted one-offs of varying quality and familiarity. “Lioness” doesn’t have the craven feel of similar vault-scraping efforts from Jeff Buckley or Tupac; it just feels sad. Not because it speaks to Winehouse’s lost promise, but because there’s little in these often wan tracks that recalls the fiery, top-of-her-game Winehouse at all.

The songs, most recorded with Winehouse’s longtime producer Salaam Remi, serve as an index of the things Winehouse loved, like classic shoop-shoop girlie pop covers (a sweetly done “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and an affectionate, reggae-style “Our Day Will Come”) and rap. On “Like Smoke,” a retro pop-goes-hip-hop collaboration with Nas, Winehouse hovers over her verse like a ghost while Nas offers non sequiturs about the World Bank. “You know how me and Amy are/Straight playas,” he says, and it’s surely the least convincing line of the year.

Its earliest track is a brisk, bubbly version of “The Girl From Ipanema,” recorded when Winehouse was 18. Her voice becomes looser and more raw as the tracks progress (though “Lioness” isn’t arranged chronologically, and for good reason), first pleasingly, then less so. It ends with a 2009 cover of Leon Russell’s “A Song For You” that’s teary and bedraggled and moving, surely selected more for pathos than art.

Allison Stewart


Amy Winehouse's "Lioness: Hidden Treasures" (Courtesy of Universal Repubic)

Recommended Tracks

“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” “Our Day Will Come”

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