Looking forward: Upcoming Retro music
Amy Winehouse’s musical influence prominent in sound of several popular retro, pop artists
This article was orginally published on September 8,2008
British-soul singer Amy Winehouse, despite her troubled personal life, received high critical acclaim for her retro yet modern-infused album “Back to Black.” Winehouse won five Grammy’s out of her six nominations. Now four other artists, including a fellow British soul singer, an upcoming Starbucks signed artist, a New York based duo and the sister of a prominent R&B singer, are using the retro sound for their music. Another common theme that these artists share along with Winehouse is singing about the ups and downs of relationships. These artists will be ranked on how retro they actually sound.
Little Jackie – “The Stoop”
Just How Retro? A Little Bit Yet Still Modern. Named after the ’80s pop group Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam song “Little Jackie Wants to be a Star,” this duo is comprised of DJ Adam Pallin and Imani Coppola best known for her 1997 hit “Legend of a Cowgirl.” Throughout “The Stoop,” Coppola articulates her view on relationships on tracks “I Liked You Better Before,” “The World Should Revolve Around Me,” and the Katy Perry-esque “Guys Like When Girls Kiss.” The comical side of this album is demonstrated on the revenge track “LOL” and on the satirical “Black Barbie” where Coppola is the protagonist celebutante. In an interview with The Times Online referring to the track “Cryin’ for the Queen” that gives tough love to Winehouse, Coppola responded, “I think Amy is brilliant, but she came to America, we invited her into our homes and our ears, made her a load of money, then she cancels shows because she’s so f***ed up.”
Standouts: “The Stoop,” “The World Should Revolve Around Me,” “I Liked You Better Before,” “LOL,” “Black Barbie,” “The Kitchen,” and “Go Hard or Go Home.”
Hilary McRae – “Through These Walls” Just How Retro? ’70s Adult Contemporary Old School. The first artist signed to coffeehouse juggernaut Starbucks’ Hear Music Label, McRae’s debut disc is a rollercoaster ride of what often occurs in relationships. The first single “Every Day (When Will You Be Mine)” is definitely memorable with its strong horn instrumentals along with the following track “Consider Me Gone.” From McRae’s MySpace page: “I went through a few major turning points in my life while I was writing this album, that’s probably why these songs are so raw.” The element of raw emotions comes through on the tracks “Hostage” and Better Off Alone.” Not everything is melancholy on this disc – there is the happy go lucky “Somethin’s Come Over Me,” and “Only Light.”
Standouts: “Every Day (When Will You Be Mine),” “Consider Me Gone,” “Hostage,” “Liked You Never Loved Me,” “Better Off Alone,” “Waiting” and “Where Will Be.”
Duffy- “Rockferry” Just How Old School? ’60s London Style Often compared to Winehouse, the more behaviorally-tamed Aimee Duffy has made a splash here in the U.S. with her retro sound similar to Winehouse but not as brash in manner. The first two tracks “Rockferry” and “Warwick Avenue” have a similar strong orchestral sound, while the international hit “Mercy” showcases a more piano driven sound. At times, Duffy’s singing voice goes from loud raspy such as on the track “Distant Dreamer” to soft on “Stepping Stone.” Overall, like Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” “Rockferry” is a solid disc despite the track “Syrup & Honey,” which lyrically should belong on a country album.
Standouts: Everything except “Syrup & Honey.”
Solange-“Sol-Angel and the Hadley Street Dreams” Just How Old School? Rewind to Motown “I’m not becoming expectations/I’m not her and never will be/Two girls going in different directions” are the opening lines of “God Given Name,” which demonstrates that Solange Knowles wants people to know that she is not her well-known sister Beyonce. The band’s name comes from a street in Knowles’ hometown of Houston where the album was recorded. Knowles, through her songwriting on this disc, does not shy away from sharing the most personal experiences on songs such as “Would Have Been the One” and “6 o’Clock Blues.”
Standouts: “Sandcastle Disco,”?”T.O.N.Y,” “Would Have Been The One,” “6 o’Clock Blues,” “Told You?So” and “Cosmic Journey.”