Amy Winehouse, 'Lioness: Hidden Treasures' (Universal Republic). Anticipation has run sky-high for this posthumous collection by the late and lamented British soul singer, but expectations have run equally low. Record companies notoriously dress up scraps when stars die young. The good news is that there are some strong new tracks here. The bad news is that the remainder is as expected: retreads and discards, some of which sound like demos tarted up with faux Phil Spector strings and an annoyingly exaggerated snare drum.
On the sublime side are Winehouse's crisp collaboration with rapper Nas, "Like Smoke"; a lightly carried (if rawly mixed) cover of Ruby and the Romantics' "Our Day Will Come"; a jazzy ballad, "Half Time," with acoustic guitar and creamy Fender Rhodes; and a slow, spare version of "Wake Up Alone." On the ridiculous side lie "The Girl From Ipanema" (say what?); a draggy, retitled version of "Tears Dry on Their Own" with bathetically epic strings; an edition of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," destroyed by echo and a relentless drum tattoo; and two rather incoherent tracks titled "Best Friends, Right?" and "A Song For You."
Somewhere in between is an OK version of "Valerie" and a piano-triplet-and-doo-wop discard not-so-cleverly titled "Between the Cheats." The album ends with Winehouse speaking extemporaneously in her broad, North London accent about Donny Hathaway, a reminder that we will never hear anything quite like "Rehab" again. How very, very sad.
-- Paul de Barros, Seattle Times music critic
Other new releases
The Black Keys, "El Camino" (Nonesuch)
Chevelle, "Hats Off to the Bull" (Epic)
The Cure, "Bestival Live 2011 (Play It Again Sam)
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