Don't be fooled by Amy Winehouse's boozy-beehive, tabloid-fodder image. This gum-popping Londoner has the talent and substance necessary to back the substantial hype. With vocals that ooze a seductive combination of confidence, innocence and sleaze, Winehouse is a real-life dream girl. While her throwback approach is mightily informed by classic soul, jazz and '60s girl groups, the songstress updates the sound by working with riddim masters of the moment Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, producers known for their work with Nas, Sean Paul and Jay-Z. Although initially this may seem to be a contradiction in styles, Back to Black's infusion of hip-hop swagger into retro grooves and instrumentation results in a fresh combination, igniting the deep, latent, interconnected roots of these genres. But the linchpin here is Winehouse's confessional songwriting, which she delivers with a wizened sense of self that belies her 25 years.
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