Stephen Duffy (or Duffy, as he prefers to be known on this release) put together an almost perfect album with this one. Following a year of difficulty securing a record deal (the alternate title of this CD is Looking for a Deal), Duffy took his management into his own hands and recorded this CD with a few friends: XTC's Andy Partridge, Aimee Mann, Blur's Alex James, and Elastica's Justin Welch (Duffy formed a side project with James and Welch called Me Me Me). The result is everything good about Britpop. The CD begins with "Tune In," a short piece of a radio dial being tuned to various songs from Duffy's long, somewhat complicated career. This basically sets the tone for this seemingly autobiographical, almost confessional album. Musically, Duffy seems to be leaning toward his Lilac Time days, which means it is more folk than dance (in fact, "Twenty Three" sounds very similar to "Return to Yesterday"). Duffy's voice is in fine form, and lyrically it is in the same vein as Lennon's Plastic Ono Band, and Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. At times, a difficult CD to listen to ("Postcard" certainly brings a lump to the throat), but it is refreshing to hear an artist reflect on his life, both professionally and personally. There is not a weak track on the CD, and although it has a folky tinge to it, it still features some of the finest pop melodies to be written in the '90s. "What If I Fall In Love With You" and "You Are" have tunes that after just one listening stick in your memory. This is intelligent music, accessible to most, and it serves as an excellent introduction to Duffy. Expertly produced (by Duffy and Stephen Street, and Andy Partridge), and extremely well recorded, it has a warm sound while utilizing '90s technology. A well-crafted album which not only survives repeated listenings, but almost cries out for constant attention, which is well deserved. Collectors take note: the Japanese version (on the Quattro label) features a bonus track ("Hey Kat"), and the Canadian version (on the Page label) also features a bonus track ("Mao Badge"), both found on various singles.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Aaron Badgley