Album Remarks & Appraisals:
2007 release, the first time Amy's debut has been available in the U.S. Years before Amy Winehouse garnered international attention with Back To Black, the sassy British Soul singer put herself on the U.K. music map with her 2003 debut, Frank. Nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize, the record glides along on the subtly jazzy production of Salaam Remi, which allows Winehouse's expressive voice, strongly influenced by Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington, to shine, particularly on the Trip-Hop-tinged 'Stronger Than Me,' the powerful 'You Sent Me Flying,' and the sultry 'I Heard Love Is Blind.' Although not quite as consistent or daring as her subsequent album, Frank is an impressive first outing that should win over anyone swooning from Back To Black.
Entertainment Weekly (p.79) - "[The album] bristles with intelligence....On this jazzier debut, she's closer to Sade..." -- Grade: A-
Personnel: Amy Winehouse (vocals, guitar); Jeremy Shaw, Jan Barter (guitar); Vincent Henry (flute, alto flute, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Robert Aaron (flute, saxophone); Teodross Avery (saxophone); Stefan Skarbek, Matt Rowe (trumpet, background vocals); Tanya Darby (trumpet); Bruce Purse (bass trumpet, baritone horn); Stafford Hunter (trombone); Timothy Hutton (horns); Lenny Underwood, Luke "Lukvatine" Smith (piano, keyboards); Donovan Jackson (Fender Rhodes piano, organ, keyboards); John Adams (Fender Rhodes piano, organ); Salaam Remi (organ); Salaam "The Chameleon" Rami (upright bass, electric bass, drums, percussion, programming); Commissioner Gordon (drums, percussion, programming, turntables); Errol Campbell (drums, percussion); Troy Auxilly-Wilson, Richard Wilkinson (drums); Rudy Bird (shaker, percussion); Gordon Williams (percussion); Felix Howard, Jenni Fujita (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Commissioner Gordon; Tom Elmhirst; Gary Noble.
Recording information: Creative Space, Miami, FL; EMI Music Publishing Studios, London, England; Mayfair Studios, London, England; Platinum Sound studios, New York, NY; The Headquarters, NJ.
Photographer: Valerie Phillips.
Arranger: Salaam "The Chameleon" Rami.
If a series of unfortunate comparisons (like the ones to follow) cause listeners to equate British vocalist Amy Winehouse with Macy Gray, it's only natural. Both come on like a hybrid of Billie Holiday and Lauryn Hill who's had a tipple and then attempted one more late-night set at a supper club than they should have. Despite her boozy persona and loose-limbed delivery, though, Winehouse is an excellent vocalist possessing both power and subtlety, the latter an increasingly rare commodity among contemporary female vocalists (whether jazz or R&B). What lifts her above Macy Gray is the fact that her music and her career haven't been marketed within an inch of their life. Instead of Gray's stale studio accompaniments, Winehouse has talented musicians playing loose charts behind her with room for a few solos. Instead of a series of vocal mellifluities programmed to digital perfection, Winehouse's record has the feeling of being allowed to grow on its own -- without being meddled with and fussed over (and losing its soul in the process). Simply hearing Winehouse vamp for a few minutes over some Brazilian guitar lines on "You Sent Me Flying" is a rare and immense pleasure. Also, like Nellie McKay (but unlike nearly all of her contemporaries), Winehouse songs like "Fuck Me Pumps," "Take the Box," and "I Heard Love Is Blind" cast a cool, critical gaze over the music scene, over the dating scene, and even over the singer herself. With "In My Bed," she even proves she can do a commercial R&B production, and a club version of "Moody's Mood for Love" not only solidifies her jazz credentials but proves she can survive in the age of Massive Attack. [Universal Republic released a U.S. version the CD in 2007.] ~ John Bush
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