Sunday, 6 April 2008

Duffy - Rockferry

Unless you’ve been in a coma since 2008’s less than humble beginnings, you’ll know all about Duffy – and rightly so, with her releases so far - ‘Rockferry’ and ‘Mercy’ - stylishly nodding back to the simplicity of the 60s. The opening title track is totally the real deal and is delivered with an ascending quality to send shivers down the spine. The album as a package, however, is a bit of a disappointment. The vocals teeter towards glossy LA rather than homely Gaelic at times – see the otherwise glorious ‘Warwick Avenue’ for the best example of this - but the unfussy emotiveness remains in tact, retaining Duffy’s charm.

The instinctive soulfulness becomes a tad trite when teamed up with much of the same repetitive love lost/love found/love lost again lyricism - but Duffy’s tone mostly carries it through where others may have fallen down. The production is suitably lustrous, but it’s not always enough, like on ‘Serious’ – the track feels too put together, backed up with generic session musician filler, and structurally predictable. ‘Stepping Stone’ is straight out of the ‘Walk On By’ school of foot shuffle, and ‘Syrup and Honey’ is more Lulu than Lulu herself.

You can hear Bernard Butler from a mile away, the whole mood echoing his finest moment – that David McAlmont (who also features here) collaboration from a few years back, ‘Yes’. Add to that a handful of Bacharach aspirations, some Hammond undertones and a ‘Heard It On The Grapevine’ imitant in the background of ‘Hanging On Too Long’. Though too many points to note leaves the ear a bit cold. And for what it’s worth, ‘Mercy’ is one of those more sycophantic moments on ‘Rockferry’.

A far more credible effort than Adele’s ‘19’, but the sheen has partially stripped away (or at least withdrawn the focus from) the sheer beauty of her voice and sunk all too lazily into middle-aged MOR. A shame, swooping string section and all.

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