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Amy Winehouse, known for her soulful voice, winged eyeliner, and record breaking albums, has been revered for her talent, but has also been subject to much criticism by reviewers. In his review of Winehouse’s album, Back to Black, John Bush falls into the category of music critics who hold Winehouse’s work in high esteem. John Bush earned the title of music reviewer at AllMusic by obtaining a B.A. in English from Calvin College and serving as the Music Director for the school’s radio station. AllMusic was launched in 1991 and has been serving the music community with reviews about albums since its inception. AllMusic is home to information on over three million albums, and has earned its reputation by continuously posting reviews on the newest albums.
John Bush’s review of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black album has become one of the many reliable reviews featured on AllMusic, based on the credentials of John Bush and the reputation that surrounds AllMusic. In his review of Back to Black, Bush touches on Winehouse’s move from jazz to contemporary R&B, her lyrical skills, and the influences on her sound. Within the review, Bush notes Winehouse’s genre change and states, “all the best parts of her musical character emerge intact, and actually, are all the better for the transformation from jazz vocalist to soul siren.” Within the declaration, Bush compliments Winehouse on her soulful vocals and her ability to successfully refine the genre of music she created. While commenting on her lyrical ability, Bush further commends Winehouse by writing, “her eye for details and her way of relating them are delightful.” Bush doesn’t have a word of criticism regarding her lyrical ability, implying that any song written by Winehouse has the ability to reach the top of the musical charts. Bush largely cites the influences on Winehouse’s album as 60s soul girl groups, and mentions that the producers on the album, Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi have lots of experience within the genre, allowing Winehouse to truly “evoke the era.” Within his one paragraph review of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, John Bush approaches reviewing the album in terms of the genre and the lyrics, only stopping for a moment to mention the music when referring to Winehouse’s influences.
Moving away from the music, and instead touching on the environment the album was placed in, Bush describes the potential audience for the album and the stakes that were assigned to the album. Never straying from his positive view of Winehouse’s work, Bush believes that Back to Black is a universal album, having the potential to reach a variety of audiences due to the relatable lyrics. While mentioning the stakes involved in the creation of the album, Bush states, “celebrity and the potential of commercial success threaten to ruin Amy Winehouse, since the same insouciance and playfulness that made her sound so special when she debuted could easily have been whitewashed right out of existence for this breakout record.” While there were stakes involved within the creation of the album, Bush believed Winehouse had bypassed the possibility of the album flopping, and he was correct.
Within the review of Back to Black, Bush focuses on the positives of Winehouse’s album including her lyrics, voice, and influences while skimming over the possibility the album could’ve done poorly and also fails to raise any questions about the album.
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