By Stuart Myerburg
Endlessly, the follow-up to Duffy’s hugely successful debut Rockferry, finds the Welsh singer in a bit of an identity crisis. Still mining the retro-sixties vibe that made her popular, Duffy this time collaborates with veteran writer and producer Albert Hammond.
Hammond, best known for recording “It Never Rains in Southern California” and being the father of one of the Strokes, peppers the album with a slicker, more modern sound that casts Duffy somewhere between soul siren and pop thrush. The results are only partially successful.
Album opener “My Boy” is a frothy bit of electro that would not be out of place on a Kylie Minogue record, but sets a tone that is not really explored elsewhere on the record. With support from the Roots, lead single “Well Well Well” is more consistent with the lively disco-soul Duffy is trying to achieve on much of the record. But the brightest spot comes from the playful “Girl,” which surrounds Duffy’s breezy vocals with lilting strings that sound like they were lifted straight off of a Mod-era soundtrack.
Unfortunately, the album falters, particularly on “Keeping My Baby,” an update of “Papa Don’t Preach” that comes off as a silly trifle, as well as on many of the torchy ballads that are scattered throughout the album. These quieter numbers seem a little too slight and are only redeemed by how comfortable Duffy sounds singing them, allowing her natural charisma to shine through. It is that charm that ultimately propels the album, despite material that is not always as engaging as the performer.
Endlessly was released on December 7 through Mercury Records. Check out Duffy’s website to listen to tracks and for links to purchase the album.