Review: Amy Winehouse's posthumous 'Lioness' is bittersweet

''When my life is over/Remember when we were together/And I was singing this song for you,'' Amy Winehouse cries.

Story highlights

  • "Lioness" is leagues beyond hastily assembled fare like Michael Jackson's "Immortal."
  • The album largely sidesteps the dozen or so post-"Black" recordings
  • Recorded at home in the spring of 2009, it reveals the singer at her most raw

''Like smoke, I stick around,'' Winehouse purrs on "Lioness: Hidden Treasures."

It's a strange thing to hear the late songstress promise: Sticking around was never really her thing. For her, anything not meant to last -- the golden years of Motown, doomed romance -- was always worth loving more fiercely.

So it's bittersweet that this not-totally-essential set of covers and rarities refuses to let her leave us for good. True, as posthumous albums go, it's leagues beyond hastily assembled fare like Michael Jackson's "Immortal."

That's a credit to producers Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson, who also helmed her 2006 classic "Back to Black." Wisely sticking to early versions of girl-group gems (Ruby & the Romantics' ''Our Day Will Come''), outtakes (2002's ?uestlove-aided ''Halftime''), and alternate versions of singles, the album largely sidesteps the dozen or so post-"Black" recordings that Winehouse made while battling her addictions. ("Lioness" includes just two original tracks.)

Hearing the clear-eyed, full-voiced Winehouse of 2004's ''Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow'' give way to the scorched rasp of 2008's ''Between the Cheats'' is heartbreaking. It's only on Leon Russell's ''A Song for You'' that it's clear she had anything left to give after "Black."

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Recorded at home in the spring of 2009, it reveals the singer at her most raw: ''When my life is over/Remember when we were together/And I was singing this song for you,'' she cries, her voice growing quieter and quieter. Like smoke, she was fading away before she was gone.

EW.com rating: B