Lioness: Hidden Treasures, 2011
People often refer to gaps and silences in things, and remark that perhaps what isn’t said is more important than what is. Listen to this record, and you’ll know instantly that what you’re hearing is the possibility of what could have been.
The album is a collection of outtakes, original recordings, covers, demos and anything else that was lying around at the time. The songs range from the sparkling cover of The Girl from Ipanema to her homage to motown on Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, her voice is dramatic, easy and sad. It spins and shakes, sometimes shudders out of her, but at the same time is breezy and light, floating around the lyrics. It sounds as easy as breathing, and yet jumps out at you and delivers you a gut punch. A bit like Winehouse herself, chilled out but always ready for a fight.
On Our Day Will Come, her voices croons and smiles, sitting above a bouncy backing with 60s style harmonies. Tears Dry slows down, and is markedly different to the version she released on Back to Black. Valerie is stripped back and raw, humming along at a fine pace underneath Winehouse’s strong, twisted vocals.
As an album, it’s rough to say the least. It’s not meant to be a coherent, well rounded album. These are the glimpses of her distinct, irrepressible voice as we’ve never heard it. The question of what might have been is unavoidable, there is no doubt she died with her best work in front of her. We’ll never hear what could have been, and that’s what makes this album beautiful and heart-breaking. It’s not about the songs, it’s a portrait of Winehouse herself.
On Body and Soul, the last song she recorded, her voice is unsure and shaky as she sings:
“My life a wreck, you’re making/ You know I’m yours for just the very taking/ I’d gladly surrender myself to you/ Body and soul”
On the last track- A Song for You– the last 20 seconds we hear her speak casually, and referring to Donny Hathaway she says:
“…he couldn’t contain himself, he had something in him, you know?”
She did too. Easily the finest singer of the last decade, Winehouse has left a gaping hole that probably no one will fill.