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Since releasing her smash record Back to Black, Amy Winehouse has been a recurring figure in the media – for her misdemeanors as much as her music. We’ve taken a step back to more innocent days with a look at Winehouse’s first album, Frank.

While the more popular Back to Black has a distinct flavour of the girl groups of the 50s and 60s and contemporary soul, Frank has a more jazzy and sometimes R&B feel.

Winehouse, who was 19 at the time of this record’s release, has a beautiful smoky quality in her voice as she sings, and can manipulate her voice to sound like a powerfully melancholy jazz singer in the line of Nina Simone or an R&B diva. Indeed, at times the resemblance of her voice to that of R&B/rap star Lauryn Hill is uncanny. Especially considering her British, Jewish heritage.

We found Back to Black’s contemporary soul sounds to be a wonderful surprise and a great listen. Frank is definitely enjoyable too, it just doesn’t have as much soul as we were expecting. Soul, as in the genre, not the feeling. Because there is plenty of feeling, honest and sincerity oozing out of Winehouse’s songs – the album Frank is aptly named. But overall it didn’t quite make us as enthusiastic as when we heard her second album and other Ronson collaborations. It’s interesting to note that Winehouse herself has claimed that she is less than happy with the finished version of Frank.

Tracks to listen out for include Take the Box – about returning an ex’s possessions and October Song, with some delightful scatting from the troubled songstress.

While her gritty, troubled artist image does make her larger than life and add a certain interesting quality to our interpretations of her music, we only hope that it doesn’t destroy her amazing talent, and deprive us of future albums from her.

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