Amy Winehouse impressed the music industry in 2003 with her genre-bending debut album Frank. Three short years later, her 2006 sophomore effort, Back To Black, catapulted her to superstardom. The album’s sonic cohesion, lyrical innovation, and classic pop elements distinguished it from all releases of its era. Back To Black shone a light on neo soul and transformed Winehouse into a music icon. However, Winehouse’s emotional troubles and chemical addictions made rocky her meteoric rise; her struggles with self-care and ambivalence toward stardom became a lethal combination, leading to her premature death, and as was the case with other brilliant but tortured artists who came before her – Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin – the addictions and public follies often cast a dark shadow on her artistic contributions.
In this refreshing book, author Donald Brackett focuses solely on Amy Winehouse’s musical artistry and legacy. Brackett fully considers Winehouse’s impact ten years after her multi-Grammy-winning album, examining her roots as a storyteller, her swift arrival as a pop diva, the crucially important creative role played by her gifted producers (Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi), the soul magic of her superb backup band, the Dap-Kings, her live performance style, and her magnetic image as a video star. He looks at her stylistic influences (the Ronettes, Lesley Gore, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday and others) and places Winehouse in a long lineage of torch singers. He reveals the creative steps in Back To Black’s inception and production, the technical virtuosity that makes it special, and why it deserves to be considered a pop classic.
Brackett also addresses the importance of pop music in contemporary culture. His incisive study of Winehouse’s second, and last, album opens the door not only to a fuller experience of this great record but also to an understanding of seductive sonic hooks that pop artists always strive for; it unearths what makes a pop record unique, influential and unforgettable.
Ten years after the album’s release, this book invites us to listen closely, with fresh ears and a renewed perspective, to the enduring genius of Back To Black.