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    Rockferry 8 ( 2008 )
    Rockferry / Warwick Avenue / Serious / Stepping Stone / Syrup & Honey / Hanging On Too Long / Mercy / Delayed Devotion / Scared / Distant Dreamer

    Welsh Diva-in-waiting Duffy has scaled stratospheric heights in 2008, topping both the UK singles and album charts. We heard all the tales about Adele and Duffy and how they were going to fill the gap Amy Winehouse was about to leave in the 2008 music scene. We heard that Adele was very hotly tipped with Duffy a somewhat uncomfortable 2nd place, to make up the numbers in a new, apparent UK diva scene. As it turns out, 'Rockferry' is a somewhat excellent listen. There are reasons for this. Unlike Adele, Duffy has been allowed time, some three years, to piece together this album. She's got Bernard Butler not only producing, but also contributing guitar, keyboards, strings and co-writing four of the ten tracks. Butler, in case you didn't know, was the original guitarist in Suede and has been slowly building up a career as a producer for the past ten years. 'Rockferry' then does more than put Duffy on the map, it firmly puts Butler on the map as one of the most talented producers we have. He's hands on, a producer in the old sixties sense. Which makes sense, as 'Rockferry' is an album rooted in Sixties soul, from Dusty to Lulu to Dionne to Aretha. It's hardly innovative to craft copies of Sixties moves, yet Duffy pulls it off. The songs are easy to relate to and her voice soars and has character enough to distinguish it from the likes of Adele or Winehouse. The songs are rounded, have nice hooks and number one single 'Mercy' is heard soaring from every other car window. You just know she's onto a winner.

    I like the way the album is sequenced and put together. 'Rockferry' to open the first side, 'Mercy' two tracks into the second half. The entire caboodle running to less than forty minutes, forty of course being the optimum album length. 'Syrup & Honey' to close 'Side A', nothing more than bluesy gospel guitar, yet her voice genuinely impresses in this setting. Her voice can be a little piercing at times, but there's no doubting she's got a set of lungs on her. 'Syrup And Honey' proves she can do subtly as well as belt out numbers full volume. 'I'm Scared' reminds me of both Motown and Alicia Keys, oddly enough. 'Distant Dreamer' reminds me of previous Bernard Butler work, the way he would frame a song and have this build up and you know it's building up all the way through. The drums and bass here remind one of Spector and Bernard Butler can do Spector better than Spector can, these days. Duffy resists the temptation to let fully go and the strings send goosebumps through the more emotional listeners. Four minutes, thirty seconds in, the bass and drums fade out to leave the strings stirring in your mind and heart. No, really! The opening bars of 'Stepping Stone' make you wonder if 'Walk On By' by Dionne has been placed on the album by mistake. The echo and atmoshere of the track really do remind of Sixties soul and it's quite remarkable that a digital 90's studio has acheived such a sound.

    The title track, 'Warwick Avenue', 'Syrup & Honey', the Seventies flavoured soul of 'Hanging On Too Long' and of course 'Distant Dreamer' are all wonderful tracks so don't be too snobby and snub Duffy just because she's number one. Amy Winehouse has yet to have a UK number one single, by the way. Duffy is no mere stop-gap, this is great stuff. Whether she's a one-trick pony or can develop however, we shall have to wait and see.

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    Readers Comments

    Jim Johnston Glasgow
    I am astounded that you like this. I just think Duffy is record producers giving us a watered down Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Ella Fitzgerald. I would also put Adele and Winehouse in same category. I know people a lot older than me, that should have more sense, but rave about Duffy, saying she reminds them of Dusty Springfield. I say to them get a Springfield compilation, and hear the original and the best. The trend is, Winehouse was successful, so find as many other female singers as possible that sound like her. Maybe I am just turning into a old fart (at 33!!!). Anyway, keep up the excellent reviews, I have to disagree on this one, but nearly all your other reviews are superb, especially Dylan, Stones, REM, Radiohead, Bowie, U2, Wedding Present, The Fall.

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    this page last updated 8/09/08

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