Duffy
Written by Nicholas Jennings    Wednesday, 19 August 2009 22:09    PDF Print E-mail

Tags: 2008 | Duffy | Features

DuffyIt’s easy to be cynical about the latest soul sensation from the British Isles to land on these shores. After all, there’s been a steady flow of divas from Ol’ Blighty in recent years, from Joss Stone and Corinne Bailey Rae to Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse. But Duffy is different. The Welsh-born singer’s sound, although steeped in ’60s soul, packs an emotional wallop that gives the newcomer a distinct advantage over her soul sisters. It’s as if the 23-year-old blonde songstress has arrived fully formed—with a lifetime’s worth of longing and heartache in her voice.

One listen to Duffy’s debut album, Rockferry, instantly brings to mind the blue-eyed soul of Dusty Springfield—with a little Ronnie Spector, girl-group pop thrown in. There are also traces of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound production in the twin peaks of the feverish opening title track and the closing, horn- and string-laden epic “Distant Dreamer.” Duffy co-wrote all 10 tracks with ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, Jimmy Hogarth and Steve Booker, each of whom shared production duties on the album. “A bag of songs and a heavy heart, won’t make me doubt,” she sings on “Rockferry,” before breaking into the thrilling declaration “I give it all my strength and my mind, I’ll make this decision, win all the fights.”

Duffy’s background belies such depth and wisdom. Born in the little Welsh town of Nefyn, she grew up without access to the music of Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick or even Dusty Springfield. “I didn’t know what Motown was,” admits Duffy, sitting in a hotel lounge, the morning after a buzz-worthy performance at Toronto’s Mod Club. It was only after moving to London that her music education began. “I had written the majority of the songs before I really got a grasp of what went before,” she says. “Now I know all about Aretha Franklin, Doris Duke and Bettye Swann. It’s just being really receptive.” “She managed to grow up without any concept of what’s cool or current, even of how to sing,” Butler has said. “What you’ve got as a result is someone who acts and sings utterly unselfconsciously and from the heart—a most rare and magical thing.”

So how did Duffy come to sound so wonderfully world-weary and heart-broken? “I had to learn quickly, from the age of 15 to 18,” she says. “I made a lot of mistakes. I saw it all—drugs, alcohol, sex.” Drugs were a problem, even in tiny Nefyn? “Yeah, it’s a really big problem, actually. I didn’t fall into that trap myself, but I have friends who did.” What about heartbreak? “I know regret and disappointment. But I don’t really know what love is. I fantasize about falling in love, the real kind of love.” At the Mod Club, she introduces the lovely, languorous ballad “Stepping Stone” by saying: “I fell in love once and never told him, so I wrote a song about it.” So she’s either a quick study or an old soul. Either way, Duffy’s the real deal.




Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Reddit! Del.icio.us! Mixx! Free and Open Source Software News Google! Live! Facebook! StumbleUpon! TwitThis Joomla Free PHP
 

Reviews

News image

Blue Rodeo - In Our Nature

2013 | Administrator | Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Over the course of 30 years, Blue Rodeo has built a loyal following of fans drawn to memorable songs and the warm harmonies of frontmen Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor....

News image

Orchid Ensemble - Life Death Tears Dream

2013 | Administrator | Tuesday, 4 June 2013

On its third CD, the Vancouver-based Orchid Ensemble continues its exploration of the crossroads where East meets West. Primarily Chinese in sound, the trio features Lan Tung’s bowed two-string erhu...

News image

Fantasia -Side Effects of You

2013 | Administrator | Sunday, 21 April 2013

Fantasia’s life has been a fairytale since capturing 2004’s American Idol crown. The former teenage mother has a Grammy, a bestselling book, a Broadway hit and a TV show to...

News image

Maroon 5 - V

2014 | Administrator | Sunday, 7 September 2014

It’s been a busy time for Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, who married model Behati Prinsloo and is co-starring with Keira Knightley in the film Begin Again. Now the 35-year-old...

Features

News image

Passing the Torch

2012 | Nicholas Jennings | Sunday, 9 September 2012

When Dustin Bentall was 12, he spent the summer with his parents at a cabin they bought in Cariboo Country, in British Columbia’s interior. There...

News image

The Midway State - From Riches to Rags and Back Again

2012 | Administrator | Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Nathan Ferraro doesn’t seem the least bit bitter—which is surprising, given everything he’s been through. In fact, the affable, afro-haired frontman exudes all the serenity...

News image

A Tribe Called Red

2013 | Administrator | Thursday, 10 October 2013

Ian Campeau will never forget the first Electric Pow Wow night. It was 2008 and he and fellow aboriginal DJ Bear Witness had the idea...

News image

k.d. lang - Canadian Music Hall of Fame Inductee

2013 | Administrator | Monday, 22 April 2013

She arrived like a chinook in the dead of winter. When k.d. lang first blew out of Alberta in the mid-1980s, her look, personality and...