Duffy – [Album]

Wednesday, 08 December 2010

Duffy is one of those distinctive voices you either love or hate. She does sound somewhat like a squeak toy, but her vocal style manages to come across as being refreshingly uncommon and full of character. She is identifiable by her voice’s higher pitch, although it still has a rich tone to it – especially when she sinks into her lower register and, in addition to having a raspy quality, her voice has a pronounced vibrato that kicks in when she holds a longer note.

Unfortunately, as interesting as her voice is, it doesn’t overshadow the mediocrity of her second studio album, Endlessly. Through the duration of her sophomore effort, the Welsh songstress illustrates beyond the shadow of a doubt that she needs to be backed by a more dynamic music style which can match her unique voice and, although some of her more contemporary upbeat songs come close, the ballads often fall flat.

Duffy’s approach on Endlessly is comparable to that of Amy Winehouse; the record is presented as a mixture of soul and hip hop, and the style is influenced by ballads from the Fifties and Sixties, with lyrics that are meant to be full of emotion and attitude. However, Duffy doesn’t have the same quality of raw emotion that Winehouse brings to the table, and that's only the first problem with the record. Endlessly could be called a soul record but, in listening, no impression is left that the singer is feeling what she’s singing enough for it to truly be considered soulful. Instead of just creating a Sixties influenced undertone, some of Duffy’s songs are completely done in the style of that day. If I saw Duffy performing songs like “I’m Too Hurt To Dance”, “Don’t Forsake Me”, and “Breath Away” in black and white, I would think I was catching an old episode of The Ed Sullivan Show. With that squeaky clean sound, if I didn’t know any better I would think I was listening to Lulu’s 1967 hit “To Sir, With Love.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have a retro influence when it's combined with contemporary music styles; it can make for a really interesting sound and has for other singers, but Duffy seems to throw herself completely into the Sixties for a lot of these songs and it just ends up making her sound dated. Such tracks as “My Boy,” “Well, Well, Well,” and “Lovestruck” are upbeat and will likely get a lot of play at dance clubs but, like many of the songs one hears at dance clubs, the music and lyrics are plastic. The lyrical content is largely comprised of clichés and comes across as shallow, which leaves one feeling frustrated. Here, Duffy really is only scratching the surface of what she’s capable of and that is painfully apparent when the really good songs on the record (like “Hard For The Heart”) show that she is quite capable.  

It’s true that the record isn’t impressive overall and I think Duffy has a long way to go. The girl has potential though, and perhaps as she matures, settles into her new-found fame and gains confidence, she will begin experimenting with her sound some more. Fingers crossed that what she turns out in the future does not disappoint.



Endlessly is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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