Lioness: Hidden Treasures 


We know the drill here, right? After endless posthumous releases from Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, 2Pac and countless others, the pattern is set: A singer-songwriter in his or her 20s dies, and somehow a few spare tracks can always be found in the vaults to justify one more new piece of product. Lioness is with us less than six months after British songbird Amy Winehouse’s premature (although unsurprising, given her public struggles with drugs and alcohol) passing in July at age 27. Like many of the posthumous albums from her unfortunate forebears, this set offers a bittersweet combination of vibrant talent and unfulfilled potential.

Happily, Lioness is a tasteful affair that serves more as a reminder of Winehouse’s tremendous way with a song than of her famously troubled personal life. Assembled by loyal producers Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson with her family’s cooperation, the album hangs together with more coherence and natural listenability than it reasonably should. Only the contribution from friend Nas on “Like Smoke” stands out as grafted on after the fact, if only because the rapper directly references her absence. With its patchwork of tracks from throughout Winehouse’s career and marked paucity of recent work, Lioness suggests that Winehouse left precious little unheard music behind. So let’s hope this isn’t the first in a steady stream of redundant releases from yet another artist who isn’t around to exercise quality control firsthand. That said, the sad circumstances under which these tracks saw the light of day shouldn’t be allowed to diminish their value. –Chris Neal

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