Retro Review: Amy Winehouse’s Frank is a timeless treasure

Frank establishes Amy Winehouse’s talent through a journey of new love and lost love.

The album cover for Frank, Amy Winehouses debut album when she was only 19.

Photo Island Records

The album cover for Frank, Amy Winehouse’s debut album when she was only 19.

Meena Vasquez, A&E Editor

Amy Winehouse was one of the most impactful and influential artists in the R&B, soul and jazz industry. Even after her sudden passing in 2o11, her music is still played throughout America every day. Throughout my life, I’ve always liked Amy Winehouse; I loved how high and low her voice went when she sang, her eyeliner and her fun and creative tattoos that proudly displayed the woman she is.

But due to me only listening to what was on the radio and then having a severe emo phase in middle school, I never stepped outside of two comfort genres in my early adolescence: pop and indie. Therefore, I never had a chance to delve deeper into Winehouse’s discography past a few of her popular songs.

Recently, I finally listened to her debut album Frank, and I was overwhelmed with the emotions Winehouse carried in these songs. The album starts with a simple song titled “Intro.” It has a simple beat, and Winehouse is scat singing. This gives off a warm feeling as if you’ve just entered somebody’s home and you’re immediately feeling the coziness and love wrapped around you.

Next, we get into the second song, which features actual lyrics, “Stronger Than Me.” This song did an excellent job of introducing Frank and the themes Winehouse sings about throughout the album, including a failing relationship and looking for new love. In this song, Winehouse wishes for her early partner, Chris Taylor, to be manlier and tougher. She realizes the relationship roles have been reversed; now Winehouse is the more dominant one in the couple rather than Taylor. The beat is slow, while Winehouse retains a stern tone that demands her former boyfriend to “man up,” encapsulating the anger and struggle she kept in during the relationship.

Afterward, “You Sent Me Flying,” details Winehouse’s journey of flirting and losing interest as soon as her love interest wants to take it to the next level. The song starts slow, similar to “Stronger Than Me,” but gradually gets more upbeat. After the third verse, where the guy admits his feelings to Winehouse, the song shifts significantly more energetic as Winehouse belts out the chorus in a more lively and robust manner than the other two choruses.

I love this song, and it’s one of my favorites because of the gradual shift in tone; I’m not a huge fan of slow and melancholy songs. So I’m thrilled when the song finally picks up the pace, and Winehouse finally displays the range in her voice. Not only can she be slow and sentimental, but she can also show a vulnerable yet upbeat feeling in her works.

“Cherry” is another one of the album’s better songs; it’s not as impactful as “You Sent Me Flying,” but it’s short and sweet. The beat is gentle and soft, crafted by the mellow acoustic guitar and snare drums, giving off an atmosphere of newly founded love. When I first heard it, I thought Winehouse found a new lover and was exploring her sexuality. Surprisingly, it’s about her red guitar named Cherry. But that’s what I love about Winehouse’s music—it’s something that can be molded and applied to anybody’s reality.

All albums have some songs that are misses; in this case, “October Song” or “What Is It About Men” are some songs that don’t do it for me. However, the album makes up for it with my two all-time personal favorites: “In My Bed” and “Take The Box.”

Starting with “In My Bed,” I feel this song is often overlooked and not given the love it deserves. In this song, Winehouse combines the elements like the stern tone used in “Stronger Than Me,” and the lively beat in “You Sent Me Flying” to make this magical song. “In My Bed” is about sleeping with an ex but not wanting anything but sex. The song gives an empowering feeling, and it doesn’t shy away from raw sensual emotion. Accompanied by an energetic beat with trumpets and drums, Winehouse crafted an addicting song that I will never get enough of.

“Take The Box” is one of the best and emotional breakup songs I’ve heard. Winehouse packs up everything her now-ex-boyfriend gave her. She has officially ended the relationship and wants the boyfriend to take the box, full of memories and symbols of their frayed relationship, and leave Winehouse’s life. My favorite line is in the second pre-chorus, “But you made me cry, where’s my kiss goodbye?” which solidifies the decision to abandon this unfixable relationship. Not only did he make her cry, but he couldn’t even give her a simple kiss goodbye to depart.

Frank is one of my new favorites. Even hearing Winehouse’s name makes me grin because of her legacy and her outstanding discography. I highly recommend this album to anybody who’s a fan of R&B, jazz and soul music. Winehouse’s voice can range from deep and slow to high and energetic in minutes, which is unique. Nothing will come close to Amy Winehouse’s discography, and this album proves that.

Listen to it here: