Back To Black – Amy Winehouse – 2006
First listen?: No
It’s quite sad to see Back To Black on this list, given the trajectory of Amy Winehouse’s career on release in 2006 we should be seeing her 3rd or even 4th studio album appearing here. As it is though, Back To Black is the legacy she will always have, a striking album that managed to simultaneously look back and into the future with it’s blend of soul and pop. It’s a short record, clocking in at less than 35 minutes, but every second is honest. I often talk about artists being sincere and honest on their songs, delivering a believable performance on a song or two on a long album. Amy never has to try. Every word, every spoken phrase, every note is real. The union of Winehouse and Ronson is one of the best of the last decade, the production only ever adds to the rawness of the vocals, taking a song like Rehab from a great opener into a modern classic. The singles from Back To Black have gone on to become just that, You Know I’m No Good, Love Is A Losing Game, Tears Dry On Their Own and the haunting title track didn’t light up the charts on first release, but have become stirring examples of Winehouse’s talent. Personally, I feel that the album is slightly front loaded with these tracks, the final 4 songs feel like more of the same and bring little new to the table. That’s not completely a bad thing, but I think it stops me from labeling this a perfect album. Album closer Addicted manages to bring things back around again though and all around it’s more than a worthwhile listen. Back To Black is a glimpse into the life of one of the most thrilling performers of the last decade. It’s honest, it’s real, it’s an album that created an icon. It’s tragic that it was to be her last.
Will I listen again?: Of course.
Best Track: I’ve always adored Tears Dry On Their Own, the Ain’t No Mountain High Enough of the new century.