Amy Winehouse

Back to Black (Universal Republic)

With the same warm, horn-propelled classic soul that Cat Power copped on her last record, Amy Winehouse's U.S. debut Back to Black at first sounds like something you could put on as background music for, say, a charity fundraiser. But those well-heeled philanthropists would choke on their canapés if they listened closer to the Brit's lyrics, a mix of weed and coke references and make-yo'-momma-blush lines like What Kind of fuckery are you/ Side from Sammy you're my best black Jew and Kept his dick wet/ with his same old safe bet. Recently given the British Grammy for Best Female Solo Artist, 23-year-old Winehouse has improved since her first release, Frank, a jazzy breakup album that was, frankly, not very good. This follow-up, already triple-platinum in the U.K., is better, packed with sticky singles like the chart-burning “Rehab” and tales of being the drunk and lonely other woman. Credit producer Mark Ronson (Lily Allen) for weaving together trumpets, flutes, flugelhorns, cellos, a Wurlitzer, and more for that classic girl-group sound that makes Back to Black feel like stepping onto the set of Dreamgirls. Only with a lot more blow and fuckery. — Maya Kroth

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