Duffy – Endlessly

written by: November 26, 2010
Duffy - Endlessly album artwork large Release Date: November 26, 2010


It seems that vocalists playing into retro style in some form or another will inevitably be assigned a musical ancestor. Zooey Deschanel’s cutesy, high-pitched voice draws frequent comparisons to Loretta Lynn. The coquettish Amy Winehouse’s songs quote the styling of her idol Billie Holiday. And hot on the heels of Winehouse’s throwback soul revival comes a new kind of voice that cannot quite be sorted into one musical family.

Welsh songstress Duffy is a veritable history book chronicling female vocalists of the last 50 years. Armed with the vocal power of Aretha Franklin, the funky beats of Kylie Minogue and the saccharine crooning of Dusty Springfield, Duffy seems to have achieved a diva trifecta. Her 2008 debut Rockferry launched her into the spotlight among a recent wave of soul singers, but the inescapably catchy “Mercy” was a cut above the rest and lead the way to chart-topping album sales. Her follow-up Endlessly, despite seeming to have a firmer grip on musical diversity, seems to have lost some of its raw, genuine delivery as it fills less of a particular niche and covers too many bases.

Endlessly could suffer the fate of a sophomore slump, but even as that it wide-ranging and intriguing album.

The album certainly has glorious highs. “My Boy” starts the album with what are perhaps too high of expectations. Duffy makes the worn down disco-pop shtick sound fresh and sexy, taking a genre that has been beaten repeatedly into the ground and reviving it fearlessly. “Keeping My Baby” and “Lovestruck” update the kind of tone that “My Boy” set, giving a Minogue-esque pop joy. Featuring afro-funk band the Roots, the first single “Well, Well, Well” seems to be trying too hard to become the epic single that “Mercy” was for Rockferry. The heavy-handedness of the Roots’ backing and Duffy’s unique voice cannot seem to find a middle ground and instead fight for the spotlight. Endlessly is at its best with slow ballads like “Too Hurt to Dance” and title track “Endlessly.” Duffy’s gentle vibrato quivers over string arrangements flawlessly, and she is able to make an emotional connection she missed for the majority of the album.

As previously stated, Endlessly lacks the care and craft that Rockferry received. It would be easy to blame this on the swapping of producers, but Duffy was well taken care of by seasoned veteran Albert Hammond Sr., who seemed to be a perfect fit for the songstress with similar groups like the Hollies under his belt. The fault partially lies with sloppily written lyrics. Duffy did admit that she wrote the album in three weeks’ time.  The end result is a hodgepodge of clichés cut and pasted one after the other. Even though she is allotted a certain number of painfully cheesy lines thanks to the nature of the genre, Duffy abuses the right and enters into the realm of being unforgiveable.

While on the topic of clichés, Endlessly could suffer the fate of a sophomore slump, but even as that it is a wide-ranging and intriguing album. It will most certainly not reach the level of success of its predecessor, just as Duffy may never achieve the kind of immortal fame of her many muses. But the steps forward that the album takes show promise for her future.

Endlessly Tracklist

  1. My Boy
  2. Too Hurt, To Dance
  3. Keeping My Baby
  4. Well Well Well
  5. Don’t Forsake Me
  6. Endlessly
  7. Breath Away
  8. Lovestruck
  9. Girl
  10. Hard to the Heart