Album Review: Duffy – Endlessly

By on Tuesday, 30th November 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

If you can believe it, nearly 3 years have passed since the release of Duffy‘s debut album, ‘Rockferry’, which has sold over 4 million copies worldwide. It succeeded because ex-Suede Bernard Butler and English producer Steve Booker lent their considerable songwriting talents to the effort. But has her second album released this week, ‘Endlessly’, fallen victim to the sophomore slump? I’ll be honest, I was pretty underwhelmed by the lead single from the album, ‘Well, Well, Well’ (reviewed last month on TGTF), which sounded too much like Dawn Penn’s ‘No, No, No’ for my liking. This time around, Duffy had a songwriting partnership with the elder Albert Hammond (not to be confused with his son Junior of the Strokes).

A good place to start is ‘Too Hurt to Dance’, sounding more Lesley Gore, Dusty Springfield, and my dad’s favourite singer, Skeeter Davis. Now this is more like it: more like what made me a fan of Duffy’s in the first place. The basic instrumentation could have been taken from a ’50s ballad. In this case, less is definitely more. ‘Don’t Forsake Me’, another with sparer instrumentation, will remind you of the beauty of ‘Warwick Avenue’: “I’m sick of drying everybody else’s tears, when there’s no one to dry mine”. Tearjearker. The title track and ‘Breath Away’ are cut from a similar cloth. If you like your Duffy singing languidly and sad, get this album, you’ll love it.

Then you have songs like ‘My Boy’ (with unnecessary crowd applause in the background) and ‘Keeping My Baby’ (with more orchestration), going with more contemporary rhythm patterns. It’s all right but not terribly inspired. ‘Lovestruck’ comes out of left field – it sounds r&b at the start, like it was made specifically for playing on Radio1. Not my thing at all. ‘Girl’ has strange whistle-cuckoo sounds. Uhh…what? The album ends with ‘Hard for the Heart’, with the awkward line in the chorus, “life is a play, and we all play a part / but it often gets hard for the heart”. The sentiment sounds false, stretched.

She’s 26 but Duffy still sounds like a little girl. This is good and bad. When we look at this album many years from now, it’ll be easy to remember it because of her innocent voice and the sad songs. I remember when ‘Rockferry’ came out: I got the album because I was sold on it purely for ‘Mercy’, which was upbeat and made you want to dance. The problem with this album is, while it’s got some good songs, good but sad songs that cash in on the vintage sound that made Duffy a household name 3 years ago, this is not one you will want to play endlessly.

6.5/10

‘Endlessly’ was released yesterday (29 November) on A&M/Polydor.

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