A Back to Black tone
There have been a number of strange, sad and touching tidbits leaking out in the week since troubled but brilliant singer Amy Winehouse's death — Winehouse reportedly reached out to celebutherapist Dr. Drew, she was adopting a child from St. Lucia (that one's been debunked), her family is giving her clothes to fans.
But for fans of her music, there's at least some music talk amidst the tragedy of Winehouse's death. According to British newspapers, Winehouse had been recording and writing sporadically for the past two to three years, and has left behind demos and the framework of about a dozen songs. The Guardian says there might be enough material for more than one album.
I'm not suggesting her label veer into Tupac territory — his label has released seven albums since his death, including one as recently as last year — but for her fans, the chance to hear more from a truly unique talent is heartening.
According to The Guardian's source, the songs around have a similar tone to her seminal Back to Black album, which won Winehouse five Grammy awards:
"People were getting very excited, quite frankly they were really good. We heard rough cuts and they sounded like vintage Amy."
Though the tracks are admittedly in the early stages, one could imagine Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, the producers who knew Winehouse well and collaborated with her to acclaim on Back to Black, could create some of the same magic.
According to The Daily Mail, Winehouse had written in large part about the turmoil in her two-year marriage to Blake Fielder-Civil, which in its own way is favorable. While Winehouse showed great promise on her debut album, Frank, it was her tales of heartbreak and loss in love — and the demons that haunted her personal life — that inspired her best work.
'Amy always had a notebook on her and would write down lyrics and ideas,' [a spokesman for the Winehouse family] said. 'People who have heard the new songs say that they are very, very good and that they are as autobiographical as ever. The period after 2006 was when Amy went through the most emotional upheaval, with Blake going to prison and then their divorce.'"
Judging by the renewed interest in her music — Back to Black topped the British charts in the week after her death, and sold 37,000 copies in the United States in the same time — it's clear that there are enough interested parties to put an album together, though any effort will have to be approved by her parents, her manager and her label.
But can an album cobbled together from demos ever really live up to the music that Winehouse released in her lifetime?
Several noteworthy posthumous releases, including Notorious B.I.G.'s eerily appropriate Life After Death and Closer by Joy Division were completed while the artists were still around. But hits like Janis Joplin's Pearl, King of Hearts by Roy Orbison and essentially the entire Otis Redding catalog, as well as works by Patsy Cline and Bob Marley prove that the voice of an artist doesn't have to die with them.
Would you want to hear a new Amy Winehouse album? What's the best posthumous release of all time?