This review was first
published on CLUAS in 2004
Other albums reviewed in 2004
A review of her album 'Frank'
Amy Whitehouse's confident debut collection of jazz tinged hip hop is
misleadingly entitled "Frank"-it should be called "Bile" - most of Amy's lyrics
are uncomfortably nasty in tone. She has an appalling opinion of her man in
particular and men in general. Amy pulls no punches but you admire her for it.
She does not spare her men but she doesn't spare herself either. Her melodies
are sweet, her words are salty and in "Frank" the end result is a very
accomplished piece of pop soul.
It's clear from the album's packaging and content that Amy - more wanton than pretty - is a party girl blessed with a strong sense of hedonism. Her voice is not overly sweet - when she does jazz she comes across as an unconvincing bling bling Billy Holliday, and her phrasing in particular becomes too deliberate. In particular the album's opening few moments feature some fairly rank scat singing which had me jumping for the skip button. "Cherry", a musical tribute to her new guitar, also suffers as a result - Amy is far too hard bitten to do ditsy. On the poppier material she's not unlike Lauryn Hill before she blipped off the radar. Amy is undeniably sassy-Britney, Christina, Pink, even the generally top notch Sugar Babes talk the dirty talk but Amy walks the dirty walk and then some. Check out "F**k me pumps", a withering look at louche nightlife women fast approaching their sell by date. Sung in a deliberately flat tone, this song is a typically acidic musical joke and for that reason it does not stand up to repeated listens. It's still a clever piece of work.
Other highlights include "Stronger", a pop standout in which she leeringly manages to chew up and spit out her boyfriend, asking if he's gay and teasing for being a Lady Boy. There's also the catchy and equally candid "In my Bed" and "You sent my flying", both of which are set off with a very pleasant Soul II Soul vibe. "Now you know" is jaunty reggae and Amy does the torch song thing on " Take the Box", a great take on love and pain and the whole damned thing.
"Frank" has its weak moments, there are times when it stretches beyond its means but Amy Whitehouse 's honesty makes it work.