Nearly six months after Amy Winehouse's tragic death in July, a new collection of music from the fiery singer has hit stores. Lioness: Hidden Treasures, released Tuesday, is a posthumous compilation of tracks that the soulful singer recorded before her alcohol-induced death. The album is a mix of covers, alternate versions of previously released songs, and two tracks she had reportedly been working on for her long-awaited follow-up to the Grammy-winning Back to Black. Posthumous records have a spotty history. Look back no further than Michael, released just after Michael Jackson's 2009 death, for an example of a hastily cobbled together collection of subpar tracks that fail to measure up to a beloved singer's legacy. Does Lioness live up to Winehouse's previous efforts?
It lacks her trademark rawness: On Lioness, Winehouse is awfully "vanilla," says Kitty Empire at the U.K.'s Guardian. Missing her emotionally unhinged vulnerability, the album is "perfectly enjoyable, but tame." Sure, Winehouse sounds great on her cover of the '60s classic "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." And an original cut of her signature "Tears Dry on My Own" — a "slow, regret-laden torch song" — recalls the Winehouse we knew. But in the end, Lioness is "a flawed memorial for a flawed star."
"Amy Winehouse: Lioness: Hidden Treasures — review"
But she still sounds great: As far as "vault-emptying" posthumous collections go, Lioness is a solid effort, says August Brown at the Los Angeles Times. Mercifully, "it helps rebut the tabloid qualities of her life and death," returning focus to the thing that "won her such allegiance — her voice." She outshines Tony Bennett on their duet of "Body & Soul" — "no mean feat" — while "Between the Cheats" provides occasion for a "rangy, limber vocal workout." Lioness may be "slight on new insights," but an old insight — Winehouse was an immense talent — is reinforced time and time again.
"Album review: Amy Winehouse's Lioness"
This should never have been released: "If Winehouse were still with us, one wonders if these not-all-there performances are how she'd like to be remembered," says Greg Kot at the Chicago Tribune. Lioness is made up mostly of covers, "none of them revelatory." The hodgepodge of recycled tracks — only two are originals — hints that Winehouse was far from making her long-awaited comeback. "If these are the best of her leftovers," let's hope that "the exploitation of her legacy stops now."
"Album review: Amy Winehouse, Lioness: Hidden Treasures"