Amy Winehouse passed away only two and a half short years ago. Could she already be due for a critical reassessment?
A case could be made based on the stripped down and surprisingly soulful set
recorded live for the Irish music television series, Other Voices. Indeed, the
intimate setting suited her sensibilities, judging from Maurice Linnane’s Amy Winehouse—the Day She Came to Dingle (trailer here), which screens
during the 2014 New York Jewish Film Festival.
in a small Anglican church in the remote Irish coastal city of Dingle, Other Voices has become an unlikely launching
pad for many top UK performers. Saint James is a small space, with a maximum
capacity of eighty. There is no
avoiding the audience, but the right performer can feed off their energy. Winehouse seemed to get that. In 2006, when
still in the process of breaking through internationally, she performed a set
of what are now her greatest hits, with only guitarist Robin Banerjee and
bassist Dale Davis backing her.
between the six full numbers, Day cuts
to excerpts from the no gossip-all music interview John Kelly conducted with
Winehouse that might surprise many people. When asked about her influences,
Winehouse primarily discusses jazz artists, such as Thelonius Monk and Sarah
Vaughan (who is also seen in a vintage performance of “I Got It Bad,” as a pleasant
bonus). She is also clearly
knowledgeable about the UK jazz scene, singling out Soweto Kinch as a current favorite,
so give her credit for that too. Evidently
she started in jazz and even still played private duo gigs with a piano accompanist
as late as 2006.
watching Day, one gets the sense
Winehouse might have been happier playing smaller, upscale jazz clubs than arenas
and massive festivals like Glastonbury.
While her Dingle repertoire is arguably more closely akin to 1960’s soul
and girl groups, “Love is a Losing Game” has a bit of jazz rhythm to it, making
it one of the highlights of the set. However, the stark arrangement of “Back to
Black” is a defining standout and rather spooky sounding in retrospect.
one point, Winehouse helpfully reminds viewers of her Russian Jewish heritage,
thereby explaining why Day is a
selection of this year’s NYJFF. It is a
bit of a curve ball, but receptive viewers might find the manageable one hour
program boosts their appreciation of Winehouse. After all, nobody from Dingle
has a critical word to say about her, including Saint James’ Rev. Mairt Hanley
and the old fellow who picked her up at the airport.
An entirely positive addition to her recorded
legacy, Amy Winehouse—the Day She Came to
Dingle is recommended for Winehouse fans and those who follow British pop
music in general. While it is surely destined to be released on some format here
in America, it has its New York premiere this coming Tuesday (1/14) and
Wednesday (1/15), screening with the short film First Lesson in Love at the Walter Reade Theater.
Labels: Amy Winehouse, Documentary, NYJFF '14