And like many great artists, Winehouse lets her troubles and problems flow freely in her music. In fact, the first single on Back to Black is "Rehab," (listen to it HERE) a song about Amy's resistance to her (now ex-) managers trying to get her to attend an alcohol rehabilitation program. "They tried to make me go to rehab, I said 'No, no, no,' " she defiantly sings over a shimmying horns-and-percussion-laced Motown-inspired beat.
Winehouse's 2003 debut album was titled Frank, and for good reason: on many of her songs she's frank, upfront and full of attitude. And it almost seems as if she relishes the public's perception of her as a self-destructive train wreck. Many of the 11 songs on the album deal with drugs and alcohol, her love for them and how they come in between her relationships with people.
On the title track, her hurt and bitterness over a boyfriend who's left her has clearly set in, but she remains strong: "He left no time to regret, Kept his d_ck wet, With his same old safe bet, Me and my head high, And my tears dry, Get on without my guy," she sings.
Another track, "Me & Mr. Jones," epitomizes the eclectic nature of her music. The instrumentation is pure doo-wop and the vocals are old-school R&B, but the lyrics are an ode to hip-hop, as the opening verse of the song proves: "What kind of f_ckery is this? You made me miss the Slick Rick gig ... I can't believe you played me out like that," she sings. Also, the Mr. Jones referenced in the song is the rapper Nas, whose full name is Nasir Jones.
As great as Winehouse's vocals and lyrics are, much credit for the artistic success of Back to Black belongs to Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson, the producers behind the album. It's their spot-on knack for creating the right music for Winehouse's big, old-school voice and contemporary, new-school mentality that goes a long way in making the album so enjoyable.
The only true complaint here about Back to Black is that there's only 11 tracks and the album clocks in at just 35 minutes long, which is brief by today's standards. But each and every track is filled with substance and holds up well under repeat listening. But despite this, Back to Black is undoubtedly one of the better releases of the year.