My best of 2011 list begins with a posthumous album by Amy Winehouse, Lioness: Hidden Treasures. The album contains covers of classics such as “Valerie,” recordings of original songs like “Best Friends, Right?” and “Between the Cheats,” as well as a nasty collaboration with Nas in “Like Smoke.”
Throughout the album, Winehouse displays her impressive vocal and stylistic range, from syrupy ballads to bubbling bits of doo-wop and jazz. For someone entering the Winehouse for his first time since hearing “Rehab” on the radio – as I’m sure much of America, like myself, has done recently – Lioness is indeed filled with some hidden treasures. She holds her own in a duet with Tony Bennett, and there’s an intimate moment at the end of the album where Winehouse talks about Don Hathaway, a hero of hers—two all-time crooners in the same sentence!
The song above is a rendition of “The Girl From Ipanema” Winehouse recorded when she was just 18 years old. Remember the “bubbling bits of doo-wop and jazz” I was talking about earlier? Let the snare snap and the bass hum as Winehouse’s lips transform tones into trumpet calls. Listen as palm trees sway in the violin’s breeze and see if your feet don’t demand a tapdance or two.