Review : Duffy - Endlessly
SfgateScientific fact: Blasting Duffy's "Well, Well, Well" will send all cats within a 5-mile radius of the stereo scrambling for the Mexico border. Although impressively jaunty and stylishly retro, the first single from the petite Welsh singer's sophomore album doesn't exactly best serve her natural paint-peeling vocal range. Fortunately, the rest of the record does a better job revisiting the smoky, Lulu-inspired soul that helped 2007's "Rockferry" move close to 7 million copies worldwide. Assisted by the Roots' rhythm section and songwriting partner Albert Hammond Sr. (father of Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr., writer of "To All the Girls I've Loved Before"), there's not much room for error here (well, apart from "Well, Well, Well"). The effervescent opener, "My Boy," ups the easy pop charms of her breakthrough hit, "Mercy," while the disc's centerpiece, "Endlessly," sounds like a karaoke bar version of "To Sir With Love" with the wrong lyrics scrolling across the screen....full text
UncutAlmost three years and seven million albums have sloshed under the bridge since Duffy first headed eastbound along the M4, crying “Mercy” in her hot pants and weathering a blizzard of comparisons, many of them simply convenient (Amy, Adele), some plain perplexing (Dusty), others slyly dismissive (Lulu).
The thought occurs that perhaps she has simply been waiting for the horror of her Diet Coke adverts to recede from memory before she poked her head back into the tent, but it transpires Duffy has been busy for the past 18 months working with Albert Hammond, who, as well as being the father of The Strokes’ lead guitarist, is also the man who wrote “When I Need You”, “The Air That I Breathe” and dozens more worldwide hits besides.
It marks quite a shift in the creative process. Duffy’s debut, Rockferry, that immaculately constructed jigsaw of ’60s pop-soul shapes, was produced and co-written by Bernard Butler. Swapping the man who wrote “Animal Nitrate” for a 66-year-old pro who composed “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before” might seem like a retrograde step, but the results – fresh, immediate, confident, contemporary – suggest otherwise. Hammond’s input aside, it quickly becomes clear that the real innovation on Endlessly is hiring jazz hip hop legends The Roots as Duffy’s backing band. In their hands the rhythms hit faster and harder, while the ballads are more minimal, direct and emotive.
Endlessly is a record of two opposing moods beamed in from two distinct locations. Half of it is a saucy, sexed-up spin around the dance floor. “Lovestruck” is pure Kylie, while “Keeping My Baby”, with its swooping strings, thudding electro-bass and handclaps, contains all the early-hours, minor-chord disco-drama of Abba’s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!”. Lyrically it’s a country cousin to Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach”, documenting a single girl wrestling with pregnancy – “20 weeks and what am I to do?” – and contemplating a future as “a stereotype with a government home”. This is social comment written in the glare of the glitter ball....full text
NmePastiche. Too knowing and it’s irritating, too slavish and it’s flat, but beware the ‘modern twist’. Witness the disco-tango-pop of ‘Keeping My Baby’, a low point on Duffy’s mostly decent second album. Produced with ?uestlove of and Albert Hammond Sr (yes, the Stroke’s dad), ‘Endlessly’ is best when it doesn’t try so hard. The hip-hop tinged ‘My Boy’ and the muscular soul pop of ‘Well, Well, Well’ are perfectly pitched, if at odds with the likes of ‘Too Hurt To Dance’, which perpetuates the Little Eva-sings-Soul Dusty shtick perfected on ‘Rockaway Beach’. That cat-in-a-swing-coat yowl will still be a divider for many, but it’s a snag of human individuality in a smooth, if mixed package....full text
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