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Amy Winehouse: Frank

At the crossroads of jazz and hip-hop stands 19-year-old Amy Winehouse, making that musical intersection a far more inviting place than devotees of either genre would likely expect. Among the most acclaimed 2004 releases in the U.K. and Canada, the British singer-songwriter’s debut disc, Frank (Universal Motown), lands on American soil shored up by reviews that make the accolades that ushered in Norah Jones pale in comparison. “Staggeringly assured,” raves the London Times. “A colossal vocal talent,” adds The Guardian, with Q magazine accurately dubbing her “Billie Holiday crossed with ball-busting rapper Eve.” Indeed, Winehouse boasts an intensity and maturity so ferocious as to be almost frightening. Take the album’s title literally. No coyness here. Winehouse holds nothing back. Consider “Stronger Than Me,” wherein she whines about an older boyfriend’s wimpiness, extolling her frustration with his namby-pamby metrosexuality with lines like “Why’d you always put me in control? / All I need is for a man to live up to his role” then immediately reverses herself, pining for a disinterested guy who’s dismissiveness drives her to distraction in “You Sent Me Flying.” She brilliantly cuts fame-addicted, money-hungry groupies down to size in “Fuck Me Pumps,” cleverly condemning such overly obvious hangers-on whose “jeans are too tight” and who do “too much E,” and can’t comprehend her lover’s concern when she casually indulges in a one-night stand with a doppelganger, insisting, “Yes, he looked like you, but I heard love is blind.” Served up alongside 11 consistently stellar Winehouse originals are two covers, “Moody’s Mood for Love” and “(There Is) No Greater Love,” her stunning treatments of which suggest that when she turns her next musical corner she’ll ably, easily navigate any, and every, path she chooses.

Originally Published