Meet the new Amys

Neo-soul torture from the sub-Winehouses
By WILL SPITZ  |  April 1, 2008


Brace yourselves: we’re doomed to at least a summer of sub-Winehouse neo-soul torture. The only thing that’s surprising about the wave of “new Amys,” as the New York Times recently dubbed the current crop of artists aiming to capitalize on Wino’s retro recipe for success, is that it took the moribund record labels so long to trot them out. With one obvious local, male exception, here are the most prominent duds.

Gabriella Cilmi, “Einstein”
Q: What do you get when you combine porno-flick wah-wahs, the watery guitar arpeggios of “Black Hole Sun,” and teenage-philosophy twaddle like “Where we go when we die? And what’s the meaning of life?” A: Insipid aural garbage.

Adele, “Chasing Pavements”
A graduate of the BRIT Performing Arts & Technology School, where Winehouse also studied, Adele has a solid set of pipes. But this song’s bland melodrama just about cancels out everything that’s good about her voice.

Duffy, “Mercy”
In a recent “Artists To Watch” piece in Rolling Stone, the Welsh 23-year-old admitted, “I didn’t know Aretha Franklin existed until I was almost 19!” No surprise there — this song sounds as if it could’ve been written by someone whose only exposure to music was Winehouse’s Back to Black.

Eli “Paperboy” Reed & the True Loves, “Doin’ the Boom Boom”
It’s impossible to listen to this horny/horn-y rave-up without dancing. If Reed were a sexy North London lass instead of a round-faced dude from Brookline, the soul-belting sparkplug might be the biggest pop star on the planet. We Bostonians have been eating up the True Loves’ authentic-sounding — if 100 percent derivative — old-school soul and R&B for a while now, but with Roll with You (Q Division) coming up in a few weeks and everyone from Mojo to No Depression starting to take notice, the band seem poised for a serious breakout.

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