Amy Winehouse, Frank

Just released in the U.S., her first album reveals a less troubled Ms. Winehouse

Are you starting to wonder if Amy Winehouse's days are numbered too? It appears the British chanteuse's life is spiraling out of control even before she's gotten a chance to become the international pop star so many of us hoped she would be — or, at least, we hoped she would be before she ended up ODing in some ratty hotel room.

At the beginning of this year, she became the new voice on the rise, thanks to sophomore album Back to Black. Now 2007 isn't even over, and the Winehouse train-wreck express keeps hurtling along so rapidly it's caused music blogs like SoulBounce.com to declare a moratorium on her drug- and alcohol-fueled antics.

And it's all out there, baby: The much-publicized, oh-so-rocky relationship with her currently incarcerated husband, Blake Fielder-Civil. The infamous YouTube clip of her performing at the MTV Europe Video Music Awards, slurring the hell out of her own songs, or the one where she takes a possible controlled substance out of her trademark beehive and (allegedly) does a bump onstage. Or how her ­dressing-room tirade at those European VMAs left a visiting Snoop Dogg speechless. Now comes the not-so-shocking news that Winehouse has canceled the rest of her European tour, telling the press in a statement, "I can't give it my all onstage without my Blake."

It wasn't always like this for Winehouse. There was a time, let's call it 2003, when she seemed like she had her shit together. She was a few pounds heavier, which made her quite the curvy, lovely lady, and a few tattoos lighter. She sounded more like Dinah Washington than Ronnie Spector. And it looks like the only drug she was into back then was weed. You practically see her licking up a joint in the booklet for her debut CD, Frank, which finally saw a stateside release late last month.

Frank is more jazz and hip-hop-tinged than the Motown and Wall of Sound vibes she re-creates on Black. But Winehouse's knack for hashing out lyrics with blunt, guilt-heavy melancholy ("I Heard Love Is Blind" sees her copping to an affair simply because her man wasn't around to fulfill her needs) is still intact.

Today, ironically, Winehouse says she's proud of Frank, but would have done a few things differently. It seems reasonable to assume she'd look back on that time with more fondness and try to figure out what the fuck happened to make her the drugged-out, bad-press-attracting, baby-doll stick figure she is now, but apparently not. Unfortunately, the things she did right back then may not be able to reverse the wrong shit she's doing now.

 
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