The world will finally get to hear the music Amy Winehouse was working on before her unexpected death earlier this year. According to a press release from her English label, a posthumous collection of unheard studio tracks, Lioness: Hidden Treasures, will be released on December 5.
The 12 tracks on the disc were put together by Winehouse's longtime collaborators, producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, and will include songs she recorded before, during and after the releases of her two studio albums, 2003's Frank and her smash 2006 breakthrough Back to Black. "It was said by all who worked with Amy that she never sang or played a song the same way twice," read the release announcing the disc. "It quickly became apparent to Salaam and Mark that they had a collection of songs that deserved to be heard, a collection of songs that were a fitting testament to Amy the artist and, as importantly, Amy their friend."
The disc is a "chronicle of her musical development" and will feature alternate takes of previously released songs, including a demo version of "Wake Up Alone" and mellower takes of "Tears Dry on Their Own" and "Valerie," as well as her recently released Tony Bennett duet, "Body & Soul."
It will also have a number of covers, such as the Shirelles' "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," Donny Hathaway's "A Song for You" (with just Amy and her guitar, recorded at her London home in the spring of 2009 in the midst of the singer's struggles with drugs and alcohol) and a 2002 reggae version of the classic '60s doo-wop song by Ruby & the Romantics "Our Day Will Come."
Winehouse died in July at age 27 as a result of excessive alcohol intake. "I spent so much time chasing after Amy, telling her off, that I never realized what a true genius she was," her father, Mitch Winehouse, said. "It wasn't until I sat down with the rest of the family and listened to this album that I fully appreciated the breadth of Amy's talent, from jazz standards to hip-hop songs, it really took my breath away."
Among the unreleased songs are "Halftime" and "The Girl From Ipanema," which were cut during sessions for Winehouse's debut, Frank. The standard "Ipanema," in fact, was the first song an 18-year-old Winehouse sang when she flew to Miami to record with Remi, who said in the release that Amy's reinterpretation of the bossa nova classic made him realize that, "I was dealing with a very special talent. Her approach to the song was so young and fresh, it really inspired the rest of our sessions."
Mitch Winehouse said he'd never heard the "incredibly beautiful" song "Halftime" before, but that if the family "had felt that this album wasn't up to the standard of Frank and Back to Black, we would never have agreed to release it and we believe it will stand as a fitting tribute to Amy's musical legacy."
One of the most recent tracks is a duet with Amy's hip-hop pal Nas titled "Like Smoke," which was recorded in May 2008. Another unheard song, "Between the Cheats," is reportedly a take on Winehouse's troubled marriage to ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil, recorded in May 2008 for possible inclusion on her third album. Fans will also hear "Best Friends," a Remi-produced track from 2003 that used to serve as Amy's live show opener.
Winehouse had been working on her follow-up to Black for two years before her death, but it is unknown if the upcoming release represents the totality of the music she recorded during that period, of if there could be another collection in the offing sometime in the future.
Some of the proceeds from the sales of the album will go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, a charity set up by the singer's family to fight addiction.