Thursday, August 14, 2008

Album Review: Duffy – Rockferry

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like you to meet Duffy. She’s from Wales, birthplace of the legendary voices of Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey, and while she obviously has more in common vocally with the latter, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if young impressionable hipster boys were throwing their boxer briefs at Ms. Duffy in the not-so-distant future, as the ladies still shed bras for the ageless Mr. Jones. Surely, Jones and Bassey must be proud of the next generation of Welsh crooning, because she picks up right where Amy Winehouse leaves off, minus all the extracurricular tabloid fodder. Like Winehouse, Duffy is rather young and in possession of one hell of a voice. And like Winehouse, Duffy sure does love to sing about love gone wrong. But on her debut, Rockferry, Duffy steps out from the shadow of Winehouse’s beehive.

For you Britpop nerds out there (like me), rejoice to learn that the Suede legend Bernard Butler produced much of the album. The production on Rockferry is slick, going for that 60s Motown/Stax sound, and coming very close to it with dramatic crescendos, backup singers, and sweeping orchestral movements. At the center of it all is Duffy, blond and big-voiced. At times she is husky, sometimes tough as nails, and on occasion cracking with fragility. As I mentioned above, the central theme on Rockferry is love gone awry, and Duffy certainly seems to be pouring her heart into songs like “Rockferry” and “Warwick Avenue.” “Mercy” might end up being Duffy’s “Rehab,” as catchy as it is. One of my favorites, “Delayed Devotion,” is the ultimate song for scorned women. She begins sweetly enough, nearly cooing, but the lyrics are anything but nice (“my love for you has turned to hate”).

Maybe it’s because she sings of ever-so-relatable, lovesick situations. Maybe it’s her not-quite perfect voice. Or maybe it’s just because she’s at the right place at the right time. But in any event, Rockferry is a great album. It’s both a fitting homage to the past and a reflection of now. I for one hope to hear more from Ms. Duffy.

For your listening and viewing pleasure, here’s the video for “Rockferry.”



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