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If you were to ask me if I liked the music of Amy Winehouse before her death, I would have told you no. Well, thanks to a blog posted by a friend and grudgingly swallowing  my pride, I gave her second and possibly last studio album a listen. To Ms. Winehouse’s family, I am sorry for anything I said about her up to this point.

Back To Black was Winehouse’s 2006 Grammy Award winning album about struggles with sobriety and personal pain. From start to finish, the songs reek of ’60s soul, ’70s funk and Gnarls Barkley class. To be honest, from what I’ve heard about her on news reports and gossip shows, this shouldn’t have been what I heard at all. I was expecting Courtney Love and I got Aretha Franklin.

From the Blog de Karl:

The retro sound really fascinated me and I couldn’t get over the power and soul in her voice – it was
as if she swapped bodies with a 300lb African American woman.

Now to my top two favorite songs.

Rehab” is the first and most popular song off of the album. As you could guess, it is about Amy’s refusal to go into rehab for her drug and alcohol problems. The song, despite its subject matter, sounds quite classy. This song, however, is now being held up as ironic and comedic. But, I would say this song speaks of her defiance and unwillingness to change for anyone but herself. She lived how she wanted, and it was a shame she died at only 27. But, at least she lived by her own rules, agree with them or not.

The title track “Back To Black” is a tale of a mistress, or that’s how I took it. She tells of how her mister uses her for nothing but sex (“He left no time to regret, kept his dick wet”), and she falls back into heartbreak every time he leaves her. When I hear this song, I think of a smokey jazz bar. There she is in the spot light and all eyes are on her. There are few songs that could make me feel that. There is such pain in her voice.

Other great tunes from the album include “Tears Dry On Their Own“, “Wake Up Alone“, “Me and Mr. Jones” and “Addicted“. The last track is about a guy coming around and smoking all her weed. Although it is a bit goofy, it is still enjoyable to listen to. But, thus was her life. Everything was all a bit goofy to her it seemed, and I envy her for that thinking.

The most impressive part about this entire album was that Winehouse, not some music making android, wrote all of the songs. That is missing in most pop music today. Save rappers, most pop singers don’t write much of their own music. It is nice to see that every once and awhile. When looking for music, that is one of the first things I look at.

It is a shame that I never gave this album much attention until now. I feel like shit being a bandwagon jumper, but I can’t help it. It isn’t until the kind words from someone’s opened mind tells me mine is locked a little too tight before I can take a chance and listen to something great. I shouldn’t always be a purist music fascist, whatever the hell that means. So, if your looking for a good album to kick back and relax to, this would be it. Never mind all the stories you hear about Amy Winehouse, just listen to what she’s saying on this album and you’ll find that what she’s saying is a little more interesting that what’s being said about her.

I give this album a 4/5 star rating.