Duffy

Rockferry

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AllMusic Review by

Those tempted to dismiss Duffy as only the latest pair of false eyelashes to straggle through the British neo-soul parade owe it to themselves to listen to Rockferry. More authentic than Joss Stone if not as honest as Amy Winehouse (both of these are good things), Duffy may be the best choice of all, whether it's because of or despite the fact that she lacks the force of personality that Winehouse has built her career on, from "F**k Me Pumps" to "Rehab." Duffy's voice can go from angelic to devilish within a few bars, and what she lacks in power and richness (her voice is a little pinched in the higher registers), she easily makes up for in the subtleties and sweetness of her vocal craft, and her ability to carry a ballad with the right combination of drama and flair. The first two tracks, "Rockferry" and "Warwick Avenue," are mirror images of each other -- grand, sweeping ballads with string-laden productions by Bernard Butler and Jimmy Hogarth that become a significant contribution to Duffy's power. Contrary to expectations, her songwriting is more strident than Winehouse's, but it's never delivered with the same type of ballsy swagger. Occasionally, she struggles to live up to the force of her lyrical convictions; her voice sounds younger than Winehouse's, and her best vocal performances come when she's wounded ("Hanging on Too Long"). Butler's production makes her solid voice and intriguing songwriting into an excellent album; although he stays in the background, the occasional guitar flourishes or sweetened strings make Rockferry a better debut than Joss Stone's or Amy Winehouse's.

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