Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Duffy - Rockferry.

It's been a while since a singer-songwriter has come along amid such a huge influx of hype surrounding them. Ok, so Adele has been ├╝ber hyped too, but that's mainly come from Radio 1 and there's still that distant untrusting feeling within me that wonders if 'Air-Time bribery' still takes place.
Anyway, that's a whole 'nother post right there.

I first saw and heard Duffy on "Later with Jools Holland", last year sometime. I liked her voice, but wasn't that taken with the song, which was Rockferry, I think. So, nice voice, but not enough for me to be taken with her enough to seek out more info.
Then, a few months ago, the hype machine kicked in, resounding the imminent arrival of someone very special. Duffy. Rockferry had a fair bit of air-play, but Mercy was the track pounding out of every orifice at every opportune moment. It certainly fits in with the ever popular 'retro' sound and Mercy had a much more immediate hook in it, which resulted in it sitting at the top of the singles chart for a while.

If you've heard Rockferry. If you've heard Mercy. If that's your bag baby, then the album does not disappoint. It's crammed with more of the same.
The 'sound' of the album is very much retro, tipping it's hat very much so to the Motown and Phil Spector era. It's as close as I've ever heard, to get a 'wall of sound' feel to it using modern technology. There's very much a feeling of real instruments on the album and it's nice to imagine that they might have recorded some of them in a single takes, as a band.
And there's strings. Lots of strings.
Now, I like strings. Many's a time when I've been listening to something and nodded my head in agreement when the strings wash in and out of a song. Strings are great. They add depth and more emotion.
But, there's a line. A fine line between using strings to compliment songs and using them to fill in the gaps. On Duffy's album that line may well have been crossed. On first listen of the album, I really liked the strings sections, but then the next song had strings, and the next, and the next.... It was three quarters of the way through, when I found myself wishing for less strings. There's definitely a point to the "Less Is More" theory.
And it's a shame. For me anyway. Much as I love the lavishness of a string section in a song, this album is simply awash with too much, which essentially dilutes the sweetness, leaving me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Her voice is without doubt the strongest selling point. She's got a cross between the voice of an angel and an aged female blues singer that's been on a diet of a bottle of Jack Daniels and forty fags a day. Earthy, gutsy, throaty, powerful and yet sensitive, sweet and pure. Her voice fits the genre of the these songs perfectly. With each listen, the tracks become much more enjoyable and it's almost enough for me to be able to mentally ignore all the strings. Almost.
The production is sweet. Bernard Butler, he of Suede fame and solo projects plays lots of instruments on the album and produces a fair whack of it too. It sounds very polished, but carries a clever disguise throughout, allowing oneself to be convinced it was recorded many decades ago.

Comparisons to Amy Winehouse are regular occurrences and not a million miles off either. It will be interesting to see if she gets past talking about the next album and actually puts it out. A point that many other 'next big thing' singer song-writer's never seem to get past.
Listening to this album has made me delve into some other albums that I haven't listened to for a while; Ani DiFranco, Regina Belle and Joss Stone. I bet Joss would sound brilliant doing stuff like this.

A good album. I like it.

Rockferry
Stepping Stone
I'm Scared
Syrup & Honey
Warwick Avenue

3 Discussions:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, mmm in fact I hate Duffie but its not so bad, i mean she sings ok but i dont like the way she is... I prefer Ani diFranco for sure, cheers

9:40 PM  
Blogger weenie said...

Love Mercy, been to Rock Ferry too yet it didn't even click when I saw the name on her album...doh! Will be getting hold of a copy shortly, looking forward to it if it's more of the same.

9:04 PM  
Blogger bedshaped said...

flats,
Hate is a strong word....

weenie,
Yeah, it's certainly more of the same.

9:08 PM  

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