Duffy to release Rockferry
Young Welsh singer Duffy, whose debut album Rockferry released in the UK only (already platinum), has captivated the nation with her current single "Mercy" now in its third week at #1 in the UK national chart. "Mercy" is set to impact Top 40 on April 29th with Rockferry set for May 13th U.S. release on the newly re-launched Mercury Records label.
Release date: 05/13/08
Buy at: Amazon
Meanwhile, Duffy sets her sights on America with shows and media events this month and next:
"The year's brightest new talent," raves Q magazine in England, "the pocket-sized Welsh girl with the voice of a '60s soul diva." Los Angeles-based media pundit and tastemaker Bob Lefsetz (The Lefsetz Letter) also caught on early: "["Mercy"] is something completely different," he posted online last month. "It sounds like it was cut in America in the midsixties, before the country had become completely infatuated with the U.K., before FM took over from AM. It sounds like a 45 you spun in the basement with the lights low as you inched your spiked shoes and sweater-encased chest up to the opposite sex, copping a cheap feel."
Rockferry was recorded in England with ex-Suede guitarist turned record producer Bernard Butler, Jimmy Hogarth and Steve Booker. Excerpts of "Mercy" and two other songs, "Rockferry" (the first UK single) and "Warwick Avenue," are on http://www.myspace.com/duffymyspace.
Duffy's homegrown style has taken her homeland by storm. From out of nowhere, she was tipped for success by 150 of the UK's most knowledgeable and influential music critics and broadcasters, landing the number 2 spot in the BBC's Top 10 Sound of 2008 poll. Journalists have unanimously compared her to the greatest British female pop singer who ever lived as The Standard proclaimed, "Her once-heard-never-forgotten voice incorporates the aristocratic pain of Dusty Springfield." Tastemakers on this side of the pond second that emotion, the Los Angeles Times calls Duffy "[the] female Otis Redding"; while Spin magazine included her in its "One to Watch" issue (February).
Opting out of college, she worked as a waitress, sang in a bar, and cobbled out some demo recordings, some of which found their way to Jeanette Lee, noted founder and partner of the Rough Trade record label and management company. She recognized Duffy's huge potential, encouraged her to write her own material, put her in the studio with like-minded co-writers/producers, and signed her to A&M/Polydor UK.
Duffy’s debut ‘Rockferry’ started the year as the most hotly anticipated album release of the year, yet few could have predicted the speed of the impact she has made, with single ‘Mercy’ charting straight in at the top of the charts before a physical CD was even available in store. This is an achievement never before seen from a British female solo artist.
Her soulful voice beguiled most of the nation’s musical tastemakers and news of its beauty and of the strength of her songs spread rapidly by word of mouth ever since BBC Radio One’s Jo Whiley chose Duffy’s title track and album taster ‘Rockferry’ as her Single of the Week in late November. Since then, she has surpassed 1 million album sales in 6 short weeks, since release and has reached number 1 in over 11 markets worldwide.
Duffy was born and spent her childhood years in the north Wales coastal community of Nefyn, a place too remote to be driven by style wars or opposing music factions (the nearest record counter was a bus ride away and only stocked the Top 40). The upbringing she describes is one in which everyone had to rub along together, making do and mending, accepting each other and their tastes without prejudice.
Having no CD collection of her own, her first real musical memory is of walking into the kitchen unannounced to find her mother and stepfather dancing to Rod Stewart. The first steps she took towards defining her own personal identity came when she borrowed one of her dad’s VHS tapes of the ‘60s TV show ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’. “It had The Beatles, the Stones, the Walker Brothers, Sandie Shaw and Millie singing
‘My Boy Lollipop’. So sexy and exciting! I played it again and again until finally it disintegrated.”
Says former Suede guitarist and record producer Bernard Butler of this artlessness, “Duffy managed to grow up without any concept of what was cool or current, what she should or shouldn’t like, how to behave or even how to sing. For her, coming to London at all was the stuff of fairytales.”
“And to come here to write songs with some random bloke who’d been recommended to her, me? It meant taking two buses and then two trains and took all day. Then she’d do the same in reverse to get home, playing the music she’d just made to old ladies she encountered on the journey. It’s hard for cynical music industry types to get their heads around just how far removed she was from our world, geographically and in every other way. But what you’ve got as a result is someone who acts and sings completely and unselfconsciously from the heart. That’s a rare and magical thing.”
Butler was introduced to Duffy by Rough Trade’s Jeannette Lee who,
in August 2004 and after hearing demos recorded in this or that mate’s home, became the singer’s mentor and manager. For Duffy, to have not just a friend but also point of both safety and reference in the strange new world she found herself in was crucial to her own musical development and sense of self.
“People keep saying to me, ‘You’ve made a great record’ but I can’t take that in because I didn’t do it on my own. Jeannette and I made ‘Rockferry’ together and she’s been with me every step of the way, broadening my horizons, introducing me to people I can trust.” Butler was just one of them: having written the glorious, chorus-free, utterly hypnotic ‘Rockferry’ together at the beginning of the project, they then worked on a further three of the ten tracks on what is already being talked about as 2008’s most important debut release. Jimmy Hogarth & Steve Booker are the other collaborators on this classic-in-waiting.
What can you expect to hear? The title track and album opener, as atmospheric, slow-building and idiosyncratic song as you could hope for, leads into a collection of original material that some might call retro in
feel, but which Duffy herself prefers to identify as classic. This is far from pastiche.
What you’ll find instead is irrefutable evidence of a significant new talent, and one that has developed in splendid isolation, not in reaction to market forces or the input of focus groups and industry experts. Duffy is the real, unspoiled original deal. “People keep asking me where my voice comes from and the fact is I don’t know,” says the brightest new star of 2008. “Why are your eyes the colour they are? It’s no answer at all but it’s the only one I have.”
2. Warwick Avenue
4. Stepping Stone
5. Syrup & Honey
6. Hanging On Too Long
8. Delayed Devotion
9. I'm Scared
10. Distant Dreamer
"Rockferry" by Duffy - release date: 05/13/08..