Trying To Get To You

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Book My Flight To London

What’s up with the ladies in the U.K. these days?

In the past two weeks I’ve fallen for two women from the U.K. One is Lily Allen, whose album has I’ve had on repeat continually since the New Year began. Now there’s Amy Winehouse, whose name I've been hearing in the etherea and have finally gotten a chance to hear. The girl is good. She’s a jazz/soul singer with a big voice and a big presence who comes off as a boozy broad with a “T” for trouble tattooed on her forehead and who's probably a little bit too smart for her own good. Hanging her own laundry out to dry in her songs, it becomes obvious that she’s comfortable with making her audience uncomfortable. “Rehab,” the lead single of her new album Back To Black, describes her manager’s attempt to get her into rehab for booze, to no avail (she got rid of her manager instead), and sprinkled throughout the album are references to her own foibles. Mark Ronson handled a much of the production, and he strikes the right balance between finding the 60’s girl group/soul vibe while keeping it rhythmically and sonically modern.

“You Know I’m No Good,” the second single, wins my vote for best song on the album. It finds the perfect balance between retro and modern; its syncopated kick/snare opening is inconceivable without hip-hop, but it never loses the organic retro soul feel it’s obviously going for. Each instrumental fits perfectly with each other – the bass line, melodically hypnotic, drops in perfectly with the (I assume) sampled rhythm guitar that sounds as though it’s from some long lost Jamaican rock steady song. Follow that with a sublimely arranged horn section and you’ve already got nirvana, without even getting to the vocals. It’s a cheating song – but of all the cheating songs I’ve ever heard, I can’t think of one where a woman strays on her boyfriend, but only orgasms with the other guy when she’s thinking about her boyfriend. Ultimately, it’s a song of regret, resignation and disgust ("I cheated myself, like I knew I would/I told you I was trouble, you know I’m no good"), which Amy conveys very soulfully. It's a wonderful song.

Download: "You Know I'm No Good"

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