Who is the first female Welsh artist to have a number one pop single in the past 25 years? If you said Duffy, you would be correct. You would also have to be a fan of her and her music. This Welsh singer-songwriter, who’s real name is Aimee Ann Duffy (Duffy is her professional name) is not very well known in the U. S. unless you listen to modern alternative radio. I had never heard of her until my lovely wife Robin asked if I had. She was pretty pleased to turn me on to her music. My wife is a big fan of the music from the 60’s era and Duffy, although a contemporary artist, sings the kind of music reminiscent of that time period. Duffy was born June 23rd, 1984 in Gwynedd, an area in north-west Wales. In 2003 she was the runner-up to the Welsh alternative to American Idol. She sang in various bands until hooking up with Suede’s ex-guitar player Bernard Butler. Duffy and Butler began co-writing songs and created a fresh retro sound. I will tell you now that this music is not my typical “knock the snot outta ya” hard ‘n heavy musical style you have come to read about here. But there is just something about this fresh sound that hooks me in. This fresh sound is what you will hear on her full length debut album. The album review to follow.
The album is called “Rockferry“. Named for a place on the Wirral, which is a peninsula in north-west England, where Duffy’s father is from. The album Rockferry is scheduled for release in the U. S. on May 13th, 2008. The first single “Rockferry” which is the album title was released in November of last year. The subsequent single called “Mercy” was released on February 17th, 2008 and went straight to number one on download sales. “Mercy” is the number one song mentioned in the opening paragraph of this post. The album tracks begin with “Rockferry” and you get a taste of what you are in store for right from the get-go. The song has the typical droning Motown, snap yer fingers music, behind Duffy’s soulful voice. The next track is a beautiful piece of music to match the Welsh siren’s perfect soulful voice. She is not just singing lyrics, her voice is an instrument. The song is called “Warwick Avenue” and is a classic. The next soulful track is called “Serious”. This song is about a gal questioning her beau about his commitment to their relationship. As the opening verse states:
I’m a trophy on your arm,
You wear me like a charm,
Yes you do.
An accessory that suits,
Your new suede boots,
Serious? Serious in love? Track number four is called “Stepping Stone” and lyrically similar in tone to the previous song. Relationships and the commitment of the other party. The music is nostalgic in nature as it takes your mind back to a time when music told a story of the heart. Now I usually only review the first four tracks but I had to include the next and fifth track this time. The awesome track is called “Syrup and Honey”. It reminds me of an old Janis Joplin song with her bluesy growling and just a clean bluesy guitar accompanying her. I can’t help listening to it over and over.
There are many highlights on this wonderful and fresh sounding album. “Warwick Avenue” who one reviewer compared to Dusty Springfield, “Serious”, “Stepping Stone”, “Syrup and Honey” is an instant classic and most likely the next single release, “Mercy” is truly an amazing song with it’s kettle drum beat. You can almost see the dancers doing the “Swim” or “The Stroll” as the song plays from the jukebox. It will forever be one my favorites. I love how they mix some subtle, tasteful rap in the background during the song bridge. “Delayed Devotion” is a lyrically smart song written for all the spurned loves who just tired of waiting.
When I drop you boy
You’ll need another toy
One that won’t stand up for herself
When I knock you down
You’ll need another town
Where somebody’s gonna talk to you
You just let me wait
Now it’s too late
For your delayed, delayed devotion
“Distant Dreamer” reminds me so much of the female artists of the 60’s like Brenda Lee and Connie Francis with a bit of the beach sound and the rolling drum beat.
I can’t say enough good things about this album. It is one of those rare finds that primes you to want to hear more. After listening to this all the way though the other night I sat down and listened to a number of oldies from the 60’s as my wife sang along. She has beautiful voice and certainly much better than mine. Remember Dusty Springfield’s “Angel in the Morning”, Lulu’s “To Sir With Love”? I know it’s a far cry from Metallica and “Ride The Lightning” but I like it. I give the album five stars out of five for quality tracks throughout, and total freshness.
Check out the video for “Mercy” below.
April 29, 2008 at 2:30 pm
don’t you be wastin’ all your money
on syrup and honey because i’m sweet enough
don’t you be usin’ every minute on makin’ a livin’
because we got our love
listen to me 1, 2, 3,
baby, baby, baby,
spend your time on me
April 29, 2008 at 3:11 pm
nuttin’ I’d rather do
spendin’ my time on you
May 19, 2008 at 1:15 pm
Love the website. I also love Duffy (I am in the UK). I was please to find your site as I am also a Christian.
I don’t know whether Duffy is or not but I find her image, her style and her music is so refreshing in this fallen world full of sex and drugs… Yes Amy Winehouse is a great singer, but what is with all the foul language and all the revelling in being unfaithful?
May 19, 2008 at 7:09 pm
Thanks for the comment Danyelle. I don’t know if Aimee Duffy is Christian or not but it is sure nice to hear a performer who is by all indication wholesome.
I also visited your web blog site and saw all things Aimee Duffy. It is interesting to see a blog dedicated to news and the happenings of one person not themselves. My wife and I really like Duffy so I will have to check back to your site from time to time.
January 14, 2009 at 12:48 am
To see Duffy live on stage at this point in her career (Oct. 24 at the Metropolis in Montreal) is to marvel at the beauty and wonder of crocuses and daffodils poking through the last vestiges of snow in the early spring. The seemingly fragile flowers are so obviously tenacious and not to be denied.
Duffy’s dignity and power are unbridled. She has the decidedly rare ability to evoke a sense of ecstacy. “The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it.” (St. Teresa: Chapter XXIX; Part 17, The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila)
It is time to move past questions about whom Duffy sounds like, to an acceptance that her heart is true and her sound is her own. Musicologists acknowledge that anyone singing or writing in blues, soul, rock, jazz, pop, rap, dixieland, swing, scat, and even country and folk is, at least tangentially derivative of, and owes a debt of gratitude to, Louis Armstrong. Furthermore, the great Satchmo himself happily acknowledged incorporating influences from such disparate sources as Guy Lombardo, Latin music, American folk songs, classical symphonies and opera. The bountiful tree of Western music is just that —fruitful and generational.
What is wrong with Duffy’s music or voice reminding listeners—for a myriad of reasons—of Roy Orbison, Diana Ross, Billie Holiday, Norah Jones, Janice Joplin, Darlene Love, Amy Winehouse, Ronnie Spector, Dusty Springfield, Brenda Lee, Connie Francis, or any other performers? No one has a monopoly on singing about unrequited, dangerous, painful love.
Duffy’s stage performance provides incites into her talent and character. When listening to her recorded work one is left with the question: Can she really sing that powerfully and mournfully, or is her voice somehow enhanced or doctored in the recording process? Such doubts are forever laid to rest throughout her live performance. Nuance, power, depth and “harrowing rawness” (Walters, Barry: SPIN Magazine, May 13, 2008) are stunningly confirmed.
The brilliant musicians who form her band are more than capable of producing the breadth of sound necessary to enhance Duffy’s range of mood and volume, which are, at various times, subtle, haunting, throbbing, and pounding. As a measure of her force as a singer, at a few points when the band was fully rocking out—the percussion at a level that changed the pulse of your heart, the keyboard and guitars taking your breath away—almost as an auditory illusion, there was Duffy’s soaring voice, somehow dominant and above the tumult.
It is not just her voice that one is struck by. The quirky hand gestures that are oddly endearing in the videos, seem, on stage, to be indicative of communication between Duffy and her band mates, similar to the orchestral directives employed by Van Morrison in concert. She may not be a “control freak” but, as she says, she has “nothing else in [her] life that [she cares] about right now.” (Duffy in, Petusich, Amanda: Duffy: Girl From the North Country. SPIN Magazine, Aug., 1, 2008, p. 61)
Duffy definitely cares. My girl friend and I were standing four to five feet back from the very center of the stage at the Metropolis in Montreal on Oct. 24th, and from that vantage point one could see the sweat, the passion in her eyes, the knowing glances between the band mates, and the pride on the faces of everyone on stage—knowing they are part of something very special. One does not make music the way Duffy and her band mates do unless one cares.
January 10, 2010 at 12:53 pm
Duffy is the bestest singer I have ever heard is Duffy a Pentecostal Christian or a Catholic
January 10, 2010 at 12:58 pm
Duffy is better than Amy Winehouseshe is a 100% better