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Duffy - Rockferry - Mercury

When we first heard the tune "Mercy" by 23-year old Welsh singer and songwriter Duffy, we were hooked.  The tune (XPN was one of the very first radio stations to play the song, by the way...) is instantly catchy, with lots and lots of cool historical flourishes.  It's her ability to wear her influences on her sleeve without sounding completely retro that makes Duffy a very interesting new voice. 

She'll most certainly continue to dodge Amy Winehouse comparisons as her star rises, but repeated listens will allow you to hear through any convenient stylistic judgments.

Already a number one hit in England – she was the first Welsh female artist to get a U.K. number one in 25 years – "Mercy" is an upbeat anchor to a really delightful collection of ten tunes.  "Stepping Stone" starts off like a Burt Bacharach hit (think "Walk On By"), but it ends up something more unexpected, thanks to an incredibly lovely chorus melody.  "Delayed Devotion" has gotta be some lost soul hit from the 70's... like if Diana Ross got back together with The Supremes for one last single in 1976.  The Phil Spector-esque "Distant Dreamer" features a big bass drum that sounds like a heartbeat throughout the track, which closes the album with a dramatic flourish.

There is a lot to like here, indeed.  Her natural vibrato does tend to wear you down a bit, but – on second thought – it just serves to heighten the overall mood.  Rockferry is a winner all around.

Written by Dan Reed

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