Friday, February 29, 2008

29 Feb: Daily Express Article The New Dusty Springfield

Daily express article pasted below.


I QUIT school and went on the dole to find fame. Now I'm the new Dusty Springfield...
Until a few months – if not weeks – ago, not many people had heard of Duffy. Like many a would-be starlet before her she trod the same well-worn path, praying that it might possibly, maybe, lead to fame and fortune. Suddenly she is everywhere – No1 in the singles charts for two weeks, her single Mercy taking the top spot even before it had been officially released.

Her song is being played repeatedly on the radio; her pouting face stares down from bill-board posters for her debut album Rockferry, which is released on Monday. And with her looks – huge eyes edged with liner, sweeping heavy fringe – and her distinctive gravelly voice belting out soul tunes it was unavoidable that she would be compared with Sixties legend Dusty Springfield.

It is easy to imagine that Aimee Duffy grew up in her North Wales home town – Welsh is her first language – spending nights on end listening to the heartfelt melodies of that swinging era.

But little could be further from the truth – this is a girl who was kicked out of the school choir aged seven and who only really ­started listening to Sixties tunes after she had been signed to a record label and the bosses thought it would do her good.

“I still don’t really know what a Sixties record sounds like,” the 23-year-old admits. “I only got given my first soul box-set about a year ago.

“When I was a teenager I liked Blur and Oasis but never bought any CDs. We didn’t really have the money. Some people think it’s odd that I ­didn’t listen to records much but that’s just the way it was.”

This endearing naivety was one of the things, alongside that hugely compelling voice, that drew in the record companies. It spoke of unpretentiousness and gave them a clean slate when it came to guiding her musically.

Long before the prospect of being one of the faces of 2008, Duffy had a small local claim to fame – at 19 she was the runner-up in Wawffactor, a Welsh-­language version of Pop Idol broadcast on Welsh channel S4C in 2004. Even though she didn’t have to encounter the likes of notoriously critical judge Simon Cowell, she found the experience intimidating and her confidence took a knock.

“It was a year out of my life. I kind of got myself into something I ­couldn’t get out of,” says Duffy.

“I didn’t understand it; I had no idea what I was doing. It was the worst experience of my life. I had no faith after that, no self-esteem. I didn’t trust my judgment.”

It is hardly surprising that her confidence was wobbly – she left the school choir after being told her voice was “too rough around the edges”.

Hers is not exactly a tale of rags to riches but the family struggled when her mother Joyce left her father to rekindle a romance with her childhood sweetheart. Duffy, then 11, her twin sister and their older sister were uprooted from the idyllic coastal town of Nefyn in Gwynedd, where they were used to running free on the beaches, and moved to Pembroke­shire.

A school music teacher showed an encouraging interest but the family couldn’t afford music lessons. Duffy then recalls her teacher asking her to sing solo: “Me? The new kid in the class? Just horrible. My face was burning. But on hearing me he said, ‘There’s something in that. Carry on,’ which was like an endorsement, the first I’d had.”

That, and the praise of her family who knew she could carry a tune, sustained her but even at 19 she was still drifting along without much of a plan. Her attempt at following both her older and her twin sisters into higher education faltered – she dropped out of her course at a college in Chester when a teacher told her: “Go on the dole, love, and become a singer.”

So she dropped out of lessons and later flitted between various small jobs while trying, like so many others, to achieve her dream.

“I was a barmaid and a waitress, I put sheets on hotel beds,” she says.

She was finally spotted by independent label Rough Trade, which after a first series of meetings felt compelled to arm her with a bagful of records to listen to on the way home.

Jeanette Lee, who founded Rough Trade more than 30 years ago with Geoff Travis, was blown away when she first heard Duffy sing. “Instantly I was comp­letely taken with this amazing voice,” she says. “I didn’t even know if Duffy and I would work together. But I felt strongly that I needed to meet her and help her take things forward.

“When she came to London to see Geoff and me, we were just bowled over. She was charming, disarming, a breath of fresh air. It was the absolute perfect situation. We set about introducing her to great music and she simply lapped it all up.”

In an unlikely scenario, it was some time after signing her first record deal that Duffy’s musical education began.

“I was quite isolated growing up but now I’m a bit of a music geek,” she says. “I love discovering things and finding out what stemmed from where, what went on in this era, how that had an effect and how people reacted in that time.”

In Nefyn there wasn’t even a record shop. And although she helped her father at work – he ran the local social club – music just wasn’t a huge part of her life, despite the fact her voice sounds so full of soul history. Duffy herself is both flattered and anxious in equal measure about the complimentary comparisons.

“I love the Dusty Springfield sound and to be compared with her is something to be proud of,” she says, “but I want to be known as Duffy, not the new anyone. I think I have worked hard for what I have achieved and want to be known for my talents, not anyone else’s.”

And there have, of course, been other comp­arisons – Duffy has perhaps inevitably been likened to that other popular young soul singer of recent years, the increasingly troubled Amy Winehouse. Tellingly, Duffy has dropped her first name Aimee in what appears to be an attempt to shy away from being likened to such a controversial artist. While they might be singing in the same genre, they’re clearly not humming along to quite the same tune.

Winehouse’s troubles are as much etched into her music as they are her body with her endless tattoos but while Duffy does indeed sing of heartbreak, there’s a discernibly more optimistic tone to her tunes.

And where Winehouse has become synonymous with living a dangerously hedonistic lifestyle, teetering constantly on the verge of another drug-related breakdown, Duffy appears to have a healthier approach to life as a star.

She has had her fair share of late nights, she admits, but that’s not down to endless partying or living the high life, as the likes of Winehouse so publicly do – it’s simply hard graft that has been keeping Duffy up.

“Recently I had a really tough week working, cancelled a planned night out and got everyone round to my flat. Within minutes I had fallen asleep on the couch and my sister said to everyone as I started to drool, ‘There she is, the face of 2008!’ It was the first time I realised things might be about to change for me,” she says.

And so far she has lived up to the expectations of industry insiders. Her first TV appearance of the year was on the New Year’s Eve edition of Jools Holland’s Hootenanny (she had appeared on Later With Jools Holland last year), alongside such established singers as Kylie Minogue, Lulu and Madness.

A modest Duffy – dressed in a classic floor-length gown – blushed to high heaven when music ­industry veteran Jools sang her praises.

Praise from Jools Holland must seem a million miles away from those early days of struggling to make ends meet while waiting to hit the big time.

“I worked in a fish shop for one day,” she recalls. “I could only stomach it for that long. I didn’t know kilograms and I'm not mathematical. I took money from a customer and it went through my fingers and into a pot full of dead squid. I just took the coin out and the fish was contaminated by the dirty money but I didn’t say.

“It’s not ­really rock ’n’ roll. When I was a waitress I spilled soup on this man. He wanted money off his bill and his dry-cleaning paid for. It was chaotic so I never went back. I hope I never have to.”

And by Monday, when her album is released, it looks like that hope will be confirmed.

Aimee Duffy Welsh CD (2004), Hedfan Angel

As everyone is probably aware Duffy previously released a 2004 Welsh EP (in the Welsh language) simply titled "Aimee Duffy".

It includes the following tracks:

1. Dim Dealltwriaeth (No Understanding)
2. Hedfan Angel (Fly Angel)
3. Cariad Dwi'n Unig (Lover, I'm Lonely)

The tracks are quite rocky in style (especially the third one) but they still show the great Duffy voice. You can download them on iTunes (just search for Aimee Duffy) or you can purchase the CD from cdbaby for just $8. Just search for Duffy. (No need to pay £15-£30 for one on ebay then!)

To give you an idea of these songs here is Dim Dealltwriaeth:

Below is Hedfan Angel:

And below is track 3 Cariad Dwi'n Unig:

English Translation of Dim Dealltwriaeth (No Understanding)

War on the land, what do we expect, accepting this for so long, keeping quiet, people crying, suffering with the strain, trying to run, like before

No understanding (repeats)where can we turn

So here we meet the world needs help and so we feel the world is being raped. On the land see our father suffer quietly, so stand up and here we wait on the fact


No love, no smile, my heart feels old


English Translation of Hedfan Angel (Fly Angel)

No answer in my memory, no light in the distance.
I'm here in the darkness, and here I belong.
No word and no reason, nothing
to look forward to,
You've left me here,
And everything's in pieces

A terrible accident and now I am dying,
Are you watching over me as I sleep soundly?

Will you kiss me softly and gently?
Now you've left me here - now
you have flown away

English Translation of Cariad Dwin Unig
(Lover,I'm Lonely)

My love I'm lonely tonight and where are you
My love I'm lonely tonight can I meet you
with the dawn?
Touching's so simple - which keeps me going
through the cloud
Touching's so simple - which keeps me


One little kiss to help me along - on the
long journey ahead,
Remember my heart when you're far away - but please
stay till I'm better.
My love I'm lonely tonight and where can I go?
My love I'm lonely tonight - I miss you so
my friend

I LOVE YOU.... x2

I love you .... I love you ....
My love I'm lonely tonight ...

Welsh "Pop Idol" Wawfactor 2003
Today I looked into it a bit more and found some interesting links concerning the younger, pre-Rockferry Aimee Duffy. Here is the original website for the 2003 Welsh "Wawfactor" competition which Duffy came second in (exert from the website below).

Image Hosted by

"Well, there's been loads of change in my life in the last year! I've switched Universities and I'm now at Chester University. I've released a Welsh single named ‘Rock, Roll & Soul' which is played a fair bit on Radio Cymru, done lots of interviews, locally and nationally and just got a new agent! My ambition, more than ever, is to succeed as a singer!

I think this year's competitors should remember to listen to the judges' advice, and not to take themselves too seriously. But maybe most of all is to enjoy every second!"

Regarding the above reference to 'Rock, Roll & Soul' - I have no idea what this isa nd whether it is available. There seems to be no other mention of it on the web so if anyone finds something or knows something please drop me a line!
EDIT: It seems 'Rock, Roll & Soul' was maybe some kind of provisional working title for the Aimee Duffy (2004) 3 track there probably isn't more Duffy songs out there that we don't know about..... apart from the other demos with The Invisible Wires but that's another story... :-)
This BBC page in Welsh gives this impression since it features the cover photo of the Aimee Duffy (2004) cd with the title 'Rock, Roll & Soul'....
This BBC page in Welsh also has a link to some kind of Welsh radio chat - if anyone who understands Welsh knows what they are on about feel free to drop me a line! One of the guys said 'not my cup of tea' but that's about all I understood I'm afraid.

Also, there's an early interview below, concerning Wawfactor (at least I think that is what is about - it's all in Welsh!) The song playing in the background at first is Cariad Dwi'n Unig (Lover, I'm Lonely). BTW, great hairdo and fab mascara....

Thursday, February 28, 2008

28 Feb: Clwb Ifor Bach Gig

Duffy did a gig at Cardiff's Clwb Ifor Bach. There's a slideshow of excellent photos from the gig here.


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Live Review: Duffy
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
Thursday 28th February 2008
By Jay Cockayne

Thank goodness Duffy didn't have a support act tonight. For one thing, she doesn't need one, and even if Bob Dylan had been warming up the crowd, it would have been unfair to Duffy not to dedicate this entire review to her and her alone.

What Duffy also doesn't need is an introduction. As her hit single Mercy went straight to number one and (thank you, oh thank you!) finally knocked Basshunter off the top spot, you'll have heard Duffy's tantalising tones crooning over the waves even if you don't own a radio. Numerous TV appearances have bolstered her growing reputation, and frequent coverage on local news has virtually catapulted her to Welsh-icon status. Dame Bassey should be quaking in her diamond-studded wellies.

However, if tonight's performance is anything to go by, Welsh-icon status may soon be replaced by simply 'icon status'. The privileged few (just 220 rammed in like excited ballerinas exercising our tip-toeing muscles) witnessed the start of her amazing UK and International tour at Cardiff's Clwb Ifor Bach; the club's most sought-after gig to date. It's a sell-out, as are the rest of her dates, silencing anyone who's daft enough to try and pin tonight's success on her homecoming.

Homecoming is pretty appropriate though, and the girl from Gwynedd showed her appreciation to the crowd in both Welsh and English, so that nobody felt left out. She kicked proceedings off with a rendition of her first single Rockferry, a hit in its own right, but one that may benefit from a re-release once her name has saturated the soundwaves a bit more. It's a melancholic piece about moving away from an old lover, gradually building up in volume, octaves, hope and optimism. It's a beautiful example of Duffy's ability to portray feelings and emotions not just through her lyrics but through the music itself, making a great first impression with anyone who cocks an ear to it. Breaking My Own Heart is another example of this, changing between minor and major keys to reveal not only her outstanding vocal abilities but also her uplifting and despairing emotions.

By Duffy's own admission, however, the song she feels is the most heartfelt is Stepping Stone, a soulfully haunting yet at the same time comforting song, written for a guy she thinks she fell in love with. She sings: 'I will never be your stepping stone - take it all or leave me alone.' Don't worry Duffy, we'll take it all.

It's hard to conceive that such a soulful, raw, and powerful voice can come out of such a petite 23-year old - not to mention her sex-appeal. Her acoustic version of the sultry Syrup and Honey is seductively captivating and just as alluring as her little dimples and luscious locks, leaving every woman there wanting to be her and everyone man wanting to marry her.

In her one-hour slot she manages to pack in ten songs, and finishes things off by belting out Mercy, much to the satisfaction of the crowd. Duffy's clear enjoyment on stage is infectious throughout the venue, and she hasn't even walked off before the crowd is calling her back for an encore.

It's been said time and time again that Duffy is the 21st century's Dusty Springfield, which, as compliments and comparisons go, she has to feel good about. Yes, there are clear influences, but the time will soon come when people will (and should!) stop comparing her to others and concentrate instead on the unique talent she has to offer. It's not often that one person can dominate the radiowaves across the entire spectrum, but this girl is, and will do for a long time to come.
The above review taken from here.

28 Feb: The Sun article: The making of my debut album

The Sun have a excellent article today. It gives details about all the songs on the album and what they are about. I've pasted the text in below.

The making of my debut album


Published: 28 Feb 2008

DUFFY - Rockferry

Rating ****1/2

YOU’D expect the Welsh blonde with the bombshell voice to have her head in the clouds right now. But nothing, it seems, is further from the truth for 23-year-old Duffy.

Her song Mercy has been sitting pretty at No1 for two weeks thanks to downloads alone, but her feet remain firmly on the yellow sands of the Llyn peninsula.

“I’m genuinely shocked,” she says. “I mean, I don’t understand about downloads and all that stuff but, for me, I thought it would be cool to go Top 40 and then we could see it climb over the weeks. It’s done way better than I ever expected.”

The song is a sexy, sultry, soulful three minutes of retro-cool, with a “yeah yeah yeah” introduction that weirdly echoes the “no no no” of Amy’s Rehab.

It’s one of the songs on Duffy’s debut album Rockferry, arriving next week after a long but, as you’ll discover, not painful birth.

Four years in the making, it comes with an impressive supporting cast.

Her mentor has been Jeanette Lee of iconic indie label Rough Trade and her chief collaborator was the esteemed producer and former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler.

Further involvement came from Jimmy Hogarth (James Morrison, James Blunt), Eg White (Will Young, Adele) and Steve Booker, who co-wrote Mercy and Stepping Stone with the singer.

Much of it sounds like a throwback to the heady days of the Sixties when girl singers like Dusty Springfield, Sandie Shaw and Lulu ruled the charts but it’s also infused with cool, contemporary flourishes.

There’s the grandiose, mid-tempo setting for the title track, the airy lilt of Serious, and the gorgeous atmospherics of final song Distant Dreamer.

While they cover the familiar themes of love, longing, leaving and loss, Duffy says: “I don’t want to be too self-indulgent so I don’t search for the meaning of life in my songs. I’m only 23 and don’t know much about life yet. I can only write songs that feel right at this point.”

Despite her tender age, these ten songs are set to provide the soundtrack to millions of lives.

Here, their creator describes how they came into being:


It was the first song I wrote on the record and the first I ever wrote with Bernard (Butler). I was putting myself under a lot of pressure at that point because I really wanted to come up with something — almost like do or die.

I don’t know where I got the word Rockferry from but I was subliminally aware of it as it’s on the border between Wales and England. I thought it resembled something strong. It’s a song about struggle.

I wanted it to be big-sounding, quite noisy and epic, but I remember not really loving that song when I first heard it. You don’t write a song about struggle then listen to it the next day and forget everything you were feeling. Now that I’m going out and performing it live, I enjoy the song as a song. I’m quite detached from it.


I can’t really explain where Warwick Avenue came from. I’ve only been there twice, once by accident. I got off at that stop and the name just took me by surprise. The next day, we were writing songs and it just sort of came out. (The avenue is in Maida Vale, West London.)

In the studio, it was quite intense. You have maybe six hours to get something finished so you have to think on your feet. But I feel the record practically chose itself. The ten songs that were standing out were the ones we used.


Bernard and I would never sit around and talk much in the studio. We’d go in, say hi, and sit down straight away at the piano. We did Serious one afternoon and I immediately loved it. It made me feel really good. It was just about having fun. (“But it’s called Serious,” I suggest to Duffy. “Yeah, how ironic,” she replies. “It was serious fun.”)


That was written with Steve Booker towards the end of the recording process. I feel very lucky I met him because we wrote this song and Mercy. With Stepping Stone, I had the intention to say something. It’s quite personal where other songs are more about storytelling or creating scenarios.

I never really use music as a way of communicating my own feelings — I do it because I enjoy music. On this occasion, I abused my authority and let my emotions in. I really love performing it live. I met Steve because he was living in a flat I went to see when I was looking for somewhere to live in London. At the time, we were pretty much wrapping up the record.

I called Jeanette Lee (at Rough Trade) and said: “I’ve met this guy. Do you think it’s a good idea to do some songwriting?” She said: “It would be good for you to relax and forget about the production of the album and be creative.” Later, I called her back and said: “You know what, I’ve got something.”

It was quite special to go away from Bernard and Jimmy Hogarth, who I worked with so long over two years, and come back with a strong song. It meant a lot to me. Music has got to be impulsive and open-minded.


I wrote that with Bernard on the same day as Serious. It was right at the end of the day and we were winding down. We’d had a load of fun and thought ‘Let’s just see what we can come up with’. I remember wanting to write something with a social context.

I was realising that the urgency of the city didn’t allow for people to spend enough time with each other. Maybe I’d seen something on the news that afternoon.

I love Wales. It’s my home. I equally love London. It’s got this buzz about it — so exciting and so much choice. Everything’s on your doorstep. But maybe I was feeling the slower pace of Wales in that song.


I wrote that with Jimmy Hogarth and Eg White around the time of Warwick Avenue. We put it down as a template and I went to stay in a hotel. That night I remember feeling that the song was drowning.

I sometimes get these horrible, overwhelming feelings that things aren’t going the right way. I felt scared. I knew I had to sing it the next day and be really clever with my phrasing. A couple of days after that, I heard it back and was very grateful I had realised what to do. The agony of that sleepless night was worth it. It’s hard to turn a song around if you don’t approach it in the right way.


I’d achieved everything I’d wanted to achieve on the album at that point and I just wanted to let loose. I wanted something sexy. It’s about sexual liberty, being young, morals, temptation, all that kind of thing.

I just love organic sound. I love strings. I love the way chords can be cleverly arranged. The Sixties was the best era in music and it’s a real honour for me to think that it nods to that but it was never an intention. I also love the Seventies, the Nineties and so on. I remember when I was a child we used to listen to Steve Wright on Radio 2 when he’d play that real heartbreaky music. We were just hooked. A bit of drama on the weekends.


I had all these ideas in my head and the song really moved, had a snappiness to it. We recorded it in about an hour and a half. I remember Jimmy sitting in while I was finishing it off and Eg had just left for something. It was spontaneous and I love that song.

Over the four years, I was having more and more of a say because I was understanding more. At the start, I left a lot of room for people to bring things to the table. I needed to find a direction for myself because I didn’t really know music, didn’t really have any reference points. Now, I have quite a firm opinion and input. The whole thing was a learning curve.


That song is about losing somebody but not necessarily in a relationship. It’s really about death, the cold silence that goes along with it and that feeling of fear when somebody suddenly disappears out of someone’s life. I just wanted to create that atmosphere. I can’t say that I’ve lost somebody that I’ve lived with so I didn’t perhaps sing it from a personal perspective.

I didn’t want to make an album with every single song sounding the same. I remember Bernard and Jimmy probably thinking I was a lunatic, you know, because they were like ‘What are you looking for?’ We’d do one song and then I’d try and move as far away from that as possible. That’s why I think you just get this real mix of emotions, of light and shade.


There’s a lot of fun to be had with a song like that. I love singing it live, you know the glockenspiel bit and the saxophone part. We didn’t have sax on anything else on the record.

It was recorded on a tough day. I thought “All right then, I’m just going to let whatever happens today come out.” I might have wanted something a bit more groovy but Distant Dreamer just came out. Hats off to Bernard for the way he finished it just on the cymbals. Bernard’s a real artist and I am very grateful to have worked with him.

As our conversation ends, I wish Duffy the best of luck with her gig that night and, of course, when she storms The Brits next year. “Let’s see,” she smiles.

28 Feb: Telegraph article Duffy: A new, old-fashioned girl

Telegraph article appeared today.

Duffy: A new, old-fashioned girl

As Duffy releases her debut album, the 23-year-old tells Neil McCormick why she's in love with the sound of the Sixties

Star of the moment, Duffy, is a bit of a torrent. She arrives in a whirl of excitement, small and pretty and full of chat and laughter.

Guiltily confessing she has been smoking ("Can you tell?"), she douses herself with a perfume sample plucked from someone's desk then opens her mouth wide to enable an acquaintance blasting her with breath spray.

"That's nice," she says, "What's it called?" Then she hoots with laughter at the label.

"'Snog Me Senseless'! But we've only just met!"

Duffy is being marketed like some kind of demure Sixties pop idol, all black-and-white and blonde (think Dusty/Sandy/Petula and young Marianne Faithfull) but, in person, she is so vivacious and alive to the moment, the nostalgic image seems misleading.

For all the retro fittings of her number-one single Mercy (a kind of Lulu sings Stax jazz-soul stomper, with just a hint of hip hop groove), and the epic strings, soulful melodrama and classic girl group charm of her album Rockferry, she actually seems a thoroughly modern girl.

She talks quickly, with a gushing enthusiasm that might border on the naïve if it weren't framed by self-mocking humility and childlike curiousity.

Her answers to questions tend to offer far more information than you really need, or can even process. "I like to talk," she says.

This is an understatement. But she is pleasant company, with an infectious passion for music.

"I was quite isolated growing up, but now I'm a bit of a music geek. I love discovering things and finding out what stemmed from where, and what went on in this era, and how that had an effect, and how did people react in that time. How was it the first time you heard Bowie's The Man Who Sold The World? What was that day like? It's amazing!"

A name to drop in music circles since late last year, Duffy (like 2008's other big tip for the top, Adele) appears to have been fast-tracked for fame in the wake of Amy Winehouse, whose stellar success put the classic female soul voice at the top of the music industry agenda.

In fact, 23-year-old Duffy's development has been a drawn-out affair. Rather than dropping her given name (she is actually Aimee Duffy) to avoid confusion with Winehouse, the truth may be that she was trying to draw a veil over a brief period of local TV fame.

She grew up in the north Wales seaside town of Nefyn, and Welsh is her first language.

There was no record collection, no music stores, just an old-fashioned wireless usually tuned to Radio 2.

"I have always had an affinity for nostalgic music. We weren't aware of the latest trends. For me, music was so far removed from belonging to anything." A defining moment appears to have been her discovery of her father's video of the Sixties TV pop show Ready Steady Go.

"I remember the first time I saw Mick Jagger, I thought, 'He's cool.' The Beatles, the Stones, Sandie Shaw - it was the sexiest thing ever. I wore that video out." I suspect not many young girls growing up in the Eighties and Nineties fantasised about Mick Jagger.

At 15, she was immersed in the local music scene. "I was such a terror. When you're young and you're female and you have a band, you have like five boyfriends in that band. But I'd have about five bands going on, and each band wouldn't know about the other. I was like a pessimistic lover: I knew that none of them would work out, but I would keep them on the go for enjoyment's sake."

At 16, she was invited to audition for Wawffactor, a Welsh-language version of Pop Idol on S4C, and wound up making it all the way to the final, eventually coming second.

"It was a year out of my life. I kind of got myself into something I couldn't get out of. I didn't understand it; I had no idea what I was doing. It was the worst experience of my life. I had no faith after that, no self-esteem. I didn't trust my judgment."

She spent a period singing other people's demos and tracks before, aged 19, coming to the attention of Jeanette Lee, a music industry veteran who co-founded Rough Trade Records.

"She asked me what I wanted, and I didn't know. I couldn't articulate it, but I just wanted this huge, lush sound, this grandness. I wanted something extreme because I was feeling extreme."

It is easy to understand what Lee saw in this little force of nature, and why she and iconoclastic indie label Rough Trade (unlikely partners with A&M in Duffy's career) were prepared to back her through a four-year process of self-discovery and music-making.

It was, she says, almost a year into the project before she was introduced to former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, and they almost instantly wrote the song that set things in motion.

Rockferry, the album's title track, is a big, melodramatic, Sixties-style ballad, Phil-Spector-meets-Gene-Pitney, about a girl leaving her past behind.

"It's a song about struggle, about overcoming. I knew I had a mammoth job on my hands to write that record, because I had to live up to something. It was either really step up and sing it or go home. When we were done, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders."

The comparisons to Dusty Springfield are based more on her dress sense and poise than musical similarities. Duffy's voice is reedier and coarser than Springfield's, yet shot through with authentic emotional force.

Her musical styles draw on a wide range of retro genres, yet the girl herself has a contemporary edge.

"As a person," she says, "I always draw the line. I have to because I've been hurt and I've been disappointed. I made all those mistakes, I've had to learn quickly, and I knew that, if I was going to survive this, I had to be strong. So there's an element of defiance."

Like Winehouse, Duffy brings something new to the past.

"Ever since I was little, I have been old-fashioned. I would hate to be pigeonholed to one era, but the Sixties was a mad, liberating time, from the blues influence on rock, the soul movement, hippies. If you've got to start somewhere, the Sixties seems a good place to start."

28 Feb: Sun article - Duffy: Don't Call Me Winehouse

Sun article is pasted below.

Duffy: Don't call me Winehouse

STUNNING singer DUFFY might not be on your iPod yet – but within weeks she will be.

She is being dubbed the new AMY WINEHOUSE — not for her lifestyle — and has been compared to legendary Sixties star DUSTY SPRINGFIELD.

Duffy says: “It’s flattering to be compared to Amy. She has done really well. I love the Dusty Springfield sound and to be compared to her is something to be proud of.

“But I want to be known as Duffy, not the new anyone. I think I have worked hard for what I have achieved and want to be known for my talents, not anyone else’s.”

The 23-year-old singer’s debut album, Rockferry, comes out on Monday and should earn her a debut No1, and a Brit nomination next year. She already has a No1 single under her belt with her brilliant track Mercy.

But the singer — full name Aimee Anne Duffy — is proud to be an ordinary girl from North Wales.

At school she was a troublemaker and got kicked out of the choir.

Her parents split up when she was ten and she spent a large part of her teenage years helping her dad out in his working men’s club in Nefyn, Gwynedd — though she says she never recovered from missing out on a job as a bingo caller at the club.

As for her soulful singing style, Duffy says: “I think it’s sexy to be rough. I’m aiming for rough, the rougher the better for me.

“That’s what it’s all about — things that are too polished are boring.”

Nowadays Duffy is happy living in London with her cats. She loves drinking wine with her pals and dancing around her handbag and says: “I like to go out. I love to get rat-ar*ed but I hate the next day, you feel like cr*p.

“I sometimes think I could try to be cool but it would just do my head in. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t shut up, so I just enjoy it.

“Recently I had a really tough week working, cancelled a planned night out and got everyone round to my flat.

“Within minutes I’d fallen asleep on the couch and my sister said to everyone as I started to drool, ‘There she is, the face of 2008!’ It was the first time I realised things might be about to change for me.

“Yesterday I was stood on the doorstep chatting to someone and this lady came over and she acted like an old friend.

“Then, of course, I realised that she had seen my video.”

Duffy landed her record contract with A&M — she is managed by the super-cool Rough Trade records — after being chased by a determined female talent scout.

She brought the then 19-year-old to London for only the second time in her life for a meeting in a pub with her record label colleagues.

And Duffy’s cheeky banter helped her land a bumper deal.

She recalls: “We just chatted and they asked me if I’d been to London, which I hadn’t — only when I was very young. I told them I went to see The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.

“Then I said, ‘Who’s the witch out of you lot?’ and we had a laugh, I was being really cheeky. But it worked.”

Duffy is a pretty, single girl about to become seriously wealthy and she’ll be a great catch for somebody — though footballers should look out.

She says: “I’ve met a lot of guys who have this mad ambition to be a footballer. I have known a lot of goalkeepers for some reason.

“I dated a couple but goalkeepers are like drummers in a band — the slightly mad ones.

“We didn’t stick it out, they’re kind of fierce, going for the ball, bull by the horns.

“I don’t understand the offside rule so that’s always a bit of problem. I get bored easily. I’m always looking for new challenges.”

But for any fellas fancying their chances, she adds: “I want a man who can build a house with his own hands — he has to be good with his hands.”

Duffy’s musical achievements are coming thick and fast.

She has impressed with two great performances recently — on Radio 2 for JOOLS HOLLANDJONATHAN ROSS on BBC1.
and on Friday Night With

It’s a rare treat to meet a star who is so appreciative of her success. Before she landed her deal she had some tough jobs, which she is delighted to put behind her.

She says: “I was a barmaid and a waitress, I put sheets on hotel beds. I worked in a fish shop for one day — I wasn’t a fishmonger-to-singer though. I could only stomach it for one day.

“I didn’t know kilograms and I’m not mathematical. I took the money from a customer and it went through my fingers and into the squid pot — dead squid.

“I just took the coin out and the fish was contaminated by the dirty money but I didn’t say. It’s not really rock ’n’ roll.

“When I was a waitress I spilled soup on this man and it was really bad. He wanted money off, dry cleaning paid for. It was chaotic so I never went back. I hope I never have to.”

Well, that seems pretty unlikely — Duffy has a bright future ahead of her and can look forward to retirement by 30 if she fancies it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

26 Feb: Duffy’s circus (Independent article)

The below article by

Duffy’s circus

The Welsh songstress might be the latest sensation but, she tells Andy Welch, she’s just looking forward to going on a few dates

Tuesday February 26 2008

She's "the new Dusty Springfield", as well as "this year's Amy Winehouse" and "the one to watch in 2008".

But whatever tag is used to describe her, chances are you'll have already heard of 23-year-old Welsh songstress Duffy.

The singularly monikered singer (“My name's actually Aimee, but don't call me that, it's way too official'') is currently at No 1 in the UK with her Motown-infused debut single Mercy, and releases her first album on Monday.

“I feel impatient at the moment, I just want the album to come out now,'' she says in her soft Welsh lilt, before explaining why she's looking forward to the release of Rockferry so much.

“I'm performing the songs live every night, but there are probably only about four of the 10 songs on the album that people know at the moment. I don't make my music so I can get a kick out of it – I mean, I do really enjoy it, obviously – but it's more for other people to enjoy.

“I can't wait for people to own the album, appreciate it, and then come to the shows and sing along. At the moment, I just get doll faces staring back at me, kind of open-mouthed, wide-eyed stares. A couple of people mime the words they know, but I can't wait for it all to be about the audience rather than me.''

It's the first of a few selfless, almost self-deprecating comments from the star-tobe, born in the small north Wales town of Nefyn on the Llyn Peninsula.

That's not to say she's hard on herself or melancholic – far from it, she's bright, chirpy and utterly charming despite a gruelling schedule at the moment – but even though she loves her music, she's not sure why she's getting so much attention.

“It's all very unexpected, the response I've been getting. Lots of people want to talk to me, but I'm honestly not that interesting,'' she says with a wry smile. “People should just listen to my record – it says everything about me.''

Rockferry does sound like an immensely personal album.

Named after a town on the Wirral, it brims with the epic melodrama of the likes of The Walker Brothers and Phil Spector's fabled Wall Of Sound, with the enduring, timeless songs of Motown's mid-60s heyday and, of course, Duffy's soulful, distinctive voice.

Thematically, it's all classic fare – love, heartbreak, loss and regret – but it never sounds cliched. Sure, we've been told by countless singers before Duffy to “hold on” (Hanging On Too Long), and she's definitely not the first to declare she's not a “stepping stone” to another relationship (Stepping Stone), but in Duffy's hands, such sentiments ring fresh, honest and true.

So what does the rest of the year hold for Duffy? There'll undoubtedly be numerous festival appearances, and tour dates for May have just been announced, but despite this, Duffy's looking forward to much more ordinary things.

“I probably need something else to think about apart from this album, which I've been living and breathing for the past four years.

“I want to go out and have a laugh, and maybe I'll go on a couple of dates. Why not? Basically, I want to do all the things that any other single 23-year-old wants to do.''

Monday, February 25, 2008

25 Feb: Mercy & B Sides UK Release on CD and Vinyl

Today in the UK, the single Mercy is released on CD and 7" Vinyl. To sample Mercy and the Official video catch my earlier post about the download release. Buy the CD or Vinyl from HMV to get the best price.

It is already number one in the UK (from downloads alone!) and it is getting LOADS of radio play so the future looks bright for this song... It is a catchy tune and Duffy performs it wonderfully. I read a review somewhere (sorry can't remember where) which said that the words she utters at the beginning of the song ("hit the beat and take it to the verse now") would be dangerous in anyone else's hands and that Duffy pulls it off, despite it being really corny. I agree. Having caught a few live performances of the song on TV and radio by now, I think Duffy really suits the song, which isn't surprising since (unlike some manufactured acts) she actually contributed to the writing of it...

What I think is most interesting about the CD/Vinyl Mercy release is the B sides. The B sides for the CD and Vinyl are different again, so now we have two more non-album tracks by Duffy. And they are both excellent tracks. Details below:

1. Mercy
2. Tomorrow
Release date: 25-2-2008
Catalogue Number: 1761794

7" Vinyl
1. Mercy
2. Save it For Your Prayers
Release date: 25-2-2008
Catalogue Number: 1761782

Tomorrow is a catchy tune, whereas Save it For Your Prayers is more soulful, so it is easy to see why the first went on the CD and the second was chosen for the Vinyl audience.

As if by magic I have put Tomorrow and Save it For Your Prayers below thanks to Youtube. Don't forget to support the artist and buy the release legally. If you like Save it For Your Prayers but don't have a record player then you can get these B sides on iTunes - just search the iTunes store for Duffy.

Tomorrow is below.

Save it For Your Prayers is below.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Duffy@King Tut's, Glasgow 23rd Feb

Duffy did a gig at King Tut's, Glasgow tonight. Review here, pasted in below.


By Fraser Cardow

With her Bernard Butler produced single Mercy going straight to number one amid a spate of publicity including Jools Holland, Jonathan Ross and Radio One's Live Lounge, Duffy's gig at Tuts had acquired a new status. The tiny and pleasantly grubby rooms buzzed with smugness as the crowd basked in their ratified taste.

They were a little bit older, the crowd. Perhaps they were drawn out of the woodwork by this music, which hasn't had a popular airing for some time. The sound in question borrows from a few eras, and certainly steals some of their best bits. It's a soulful, poppy, Northern Soul-inspired, Motown-fed sound complete with mournful echo, electric electric (sic) guitar and an irresistible groove. That and the typically poignant but clunky lyrics favoured by soulsters.

Add that music to the beautiful, petite and blonde Duffy's on-stage presence in King Tuts on Saturday and the effect was captivating. She stood out like a cute, willowy Dusty Springfield against her session musicians, the subtle absence of colour helping her blend further into the sixties, where she clearly wished to hail from.

As the 23-year-old from North Wales launched into her set, it became clear there was a slight case of false advertising. Almost all the songs are slower than the single Mercy, but nothing dragged. Rockferry, the album title track, began threateningly, building quickly (she loves the 3 minute song) into a statuesque and powerful song. Honey and Syrup is a wistful love song; soulful, slow and breathless, while Warwick Avenue is a classic time-to-move-on-heartbreak song – sad but triumphant. Stepping Stone told of another lost love - she's had a few – but as with all good soul, the message was in the rhythm; in the defiant hooks and heart-swelling high points. Most of the songs were love-torn heartbreakers, but Duffy's voice gels them into something special. It was a tight, stylish mix of the Northern Soul beat and classic soul floorshakers.

As she spanned through her album the overall impression was of consummate professionalism, which ironically took a little gloss off the show. She could do with a little more life in her limbs to shake off the highly produced vibe, which wasn't helped by album promotion between most songs.

But her quiet assurance obviously stems from talent. When she let loose, her voice was awesome. Her co-written blues (often her own, she told us so), were from the heart and powerfully delivered. The crowd stood quietly; a little dumbstruck perhaps, or maybe just mirroring her stillness.

She appears to be a new diva, a new Amy Winehouse or Adele. Perhaps more akin to Winehouse's classic soul pastiche, but this niche seems perfect for her. The public reaction has certainly revealed a demand for this kind of musical kickback to a purer time, and on the evidence of Duffy's showing in Glasgow, she's oozing just the right era.

23 Feb: Sound BBC LIVE MERCY with interview

Duffy perform 'Mercy' live and there's also an interview. Sound (Switch) BBC2/3?

website here:

Backstage interview below.

Photos from this session below:

Duffy on Culture show

23 Feb: Duffy is so fluffy?

What is this headline about? Daily Star article pasted below.


By Kim Dawson

HERE’S Welsh songbird Duffy showing no Mercy as she prepares to belt out her No 1 smash on BBC2 Switch’s Sound programme.

The 23-year-old, who is currently reigning at the top of the singles chart, wrapped up warm in a cute coat.

Watch the performance at midday today alongside dance aces Does It Offend You, Yeah, The Young Knives and Jay Sean, 26.

23 Feb: Indepent Article - Duffy: Little voice

Huge article appeared in today's Independent Saturday magazine.

Duffy: Little voice

Move over Amy and Lily: There’s a new girl in town. Rob Sharp meets Duffy, the young Welsh diva set to topple the song queens from their thrones

Saturday, 23 February 2008

There seems to be a tried-and-tested career arc to being a pop star these days. One minute you're a Bambi-eyed housewife's choice; the next thing you know you're tottering around on hard drugs, bawling "I loves yew Blakey" as if you're starring in a perverse cross between Skins and On the Buses.

It is safe to say that Duffy looks most unlikely to follow this trajectory. Sitting in the plush St John's Wood offices of her publicist, the 23-year-old rocks back into her seat, laughing. She points out the miniature dolls of the Rolling Stones sitting on the windowsill; giggles about how the free perfume she has just tried on is making her sneeze; casually drops into conversation how she just ran into an "old friend" who worked on her new record, Rockferry, in New York. The pair went out for cocktails. It's all fresh and exciting.

"Before Christmas I remember it being quite frantic," she gushes, after taking off her coat and flapping around the room, "and I was thinking: 'How could it ever get any busier than this?' But when you're in the thick of it, it feels a bit different. I've always been slightly afraid of coming out with my record because it's so personal to me. Now it doesn't feel as frightening as I thought it would."

The reason for Duffy's confidence, in case you don't already know, is that she, along with 19-year-old Adele Adkins, heads the list of singers already making a splash in 2008: in terms of column inches she will soon be on a par with the likes of Lily Allen and Kate Nash. That's not to say, however, that she doesn't have talent: Jo Wiley made "Rockferry" her single of the week on Radio 1 late last year, and Jools Holland has already invited her on to his iconic TV show, Later. Twice.

Then, there's her voice: powerful, edgy, distinctive. And she's certainly got no cracks in her musical foundations: she is managed by Jeannette Lee, one of the founders of Rough Trade Records, and is now the proud owner of a deal with A&M. Rockferry is co-written and co-produced by the venerable Bernard Butler, one-time guitarist with Suede. "From the moment she started singing I knew it would be great," he says. Life couldn't look peachier.

Another reason to love Duffy is that in person she seems like an innocent. At a time when pop stars are imploding left, right and centre, she seems a world away from anything like a Britney Spears or Amy Winehouse-style meltdown. She's honest, interested in others, confident, lacks pretension, and even has a full head of hair.

"There's no shit on Duffy," Butler adds. "She doesn't need to lie about anything. She is what she is. It's amazing to meet someone like her in London. She sings exactly from the heart. But she was lucky enough to find people that could steer her. On the same day she met Jeannette she could have met Simon Cowell."

But you can't say she lacked the drive to get here. While some of her early interviews have dwelt on how she grew up with no record collection, she did leave school at 15 to pursue her singing career. At one point she even commuted to Switzerland to work on her music.

And if there were once holes in her musical knowledge they are harder to pick out now. For a time, she was in the enviable position of having Butler load up her iPod with tracks from his record collection, which she would listen to on the five-hour trip between her home in Wales and his pad in the capital. He bolstered her "soul": Al Green, Bettye Swan, Ann Peebles, even a bit of Beyoncé. Now, in the course of our interview, she is as happy name-dropping Doris Duke and Scott Walker as Phil Spector and Burt Bacharach. But she's not embarrassed about her "ignorant" beginnings.

"I don't think I'm an exception. I have a lot of friends who don't own records. With my friends and my sisters' friends, it's really normal for music to be the background of your life rather than how you identify yourself."

And if you listen to her album, somehow, despite Duffy's relatively secluded beginnings, she does seem to have pulled it off. It's full of show-stoppers. So how did she manage it?

Amy Ann Duffy was born in 1984 in the north Wales seaside village of Nefyn. Her first language is Welsh. Her first experience of music was seeing a VHS cassette of Mick Jagger singing "Jumpin' Jack Flash". But it wasn't this that kick-started her decision to pursue music.

"I was at a swimming lesson when I was six and I was standing next to 11-year-old boys," she remembers. "I remember all the guys picking on me. My mum was watching me, and I remember when I was swimming I was crying underneath the water. And I thought, 'How can anyone see the tears when I'm swimming?'" Shortly after this she ditched sport in favour of her voice.

When she was 10 her parents divorced. Soon afterwards she moved to Pembrokeshire with her mum and her mother's new partner. But the upheaval didn't stop her making close friends, and in the absence of an obsessive, navel-gazing record-collecting mentality Duffy says that certain songs, often the classics, leapt out of the background into her life. The first time she heard "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers was at her best friend's mum's funeral. "This song just seemed to follow her after that," she says. "And that's when I realised just how spectacular the power of emotion is in music. Every time she heard it I can remember her putting her fingers in her ears and tears streaming down her face. She was just frozen, and I would have to act, and get people to turn it off. It is such a poignant song for that reason."

The singer quit school after her GCSEs – "it caused real mayhem. I kept my head low for a while because everyone was against it" – and went to do her A levels at a college in Chester where she met an (anonymous) teacher who said: "Go on the dole, love, and become a singer." So she did. She worked in an optician's, as a waitress, and appeared on an early Pop Idol-style show in Wales.

After much hard work, in 2004, one of the many demos she had diligently recorded landed on the desk of Lee at Rough Trade. Soon, Duffy was on the journey from her home in Nefyn to London. "I went there and met Jeannette and Geoff [Travis, Rough Trade co-founder] and he ordered a shandy, and said, 'Let's go crazy'. And I was like – these people are cool. And I remember a couple of weeks later I got a call from Jeannette saying do you want to do this? I just thought, 'Why me?'"

The admiration was mutual. "When I first heard her voice, I fell in love with it," says Lee. "It's so emotional and huge. And then you meet this tiny bubbly character. There was something immediately that was interesting. She's a real live wire with an incredible talent. And when we met her she was a blank canvas, which was interesting. But she knew she could sing, and also that she had a lot to learn."

This meeting overlapped with a period in which Duffy was singing the songs of Owen Powell (the former Catatonia guitarist) and Richard Parfitt (from 60ft Dolls). But the singer decided she wanted to have some input in the writing process, and Rough Trade hooked her up with Butler. The partnership between Duffy and Butler, along with the other hit songwriters and producers who have worked on the album – Jimmy Hogarth, Eg White and Steve Booker – has allowed the singer to contribute lyrics and the vocal "top-line".

Since then, it is clear Butler has had an amazing effect on her, certainly in terms of her confidence. The pair have been collaborating on and off on the album for the past few years, but one moment particularly stands out. It involves, appropriately enough, the recording of Rockferry's first track in 2004, which shares the name of the album.

Duffy sung its first verse conventionally enough, Butler recounts. But then he asked her to move the melody up a fifth. The singer was nervous about stretching her voice, and she said she didn't want to. But Butler insisted. "I said, 'That's amazing. That's thrilling and beautiful.' Duffy said she still didn't like it. It took her months before she got 'Rockferry'. But on the record she sounds like she's being pushed out. It's edge-of-the-cliff stuff. I said, 'Do this or go back to Wales'. But in a great way."

Certainly the pair seem to have achieved something against the odds. The ingredients of "Rockferry" could have been disappointing – its languorous tempo is too slow to dance to; it is not the hippest sound, in that it sounds as if it could have been written 40 years ago; then there is the chorus – it doesn't have one. But the whole adds up to something special, "an experience", as Butler says. As it builds to its climax it is thrown forward by the sheer intensity of Duffy's vocals, which are emotionally honest and soulful beyond her years. Her lyrics aren't shocking, either. "There's no sleep on the journey, away from town/ A bag of songs and a heavy heart, won't make me doubt," she sings in "Rockferry". For "bag" should we read "iPod"? Thank goodness for Bernard.

As we wrap up the interview, ensconced in friendly patter, the question arises of who this successful, single, pop star – who seems to have a healthy interest in gossip – will be seen out and about with in the diary columns over the next year. She does say she'd consider seeing the younger brother of Winehouse's spouse, Blake Fielder-Civil, should he exist – "It might be quite fun having Amy as a sister-in-law."

We also discuss who will like her music. "My mum was driving back from work recently," Duffy says, "and there was a girl of six or seven by the side of road and she wasn't dressed properly. The girl was freezing and wearing a T-shirt. And my mother said: 'Oh my God I remember that being you.' And I thought to myself that it is so important that this little girl gets to hear my music. I'm not doing this because I get kicks out of it or that I wake up every morning and it feels like I've won the lottery. I'm doing this because I just like music and I want to be a part of music culture."

To the cynics out there, Duffy and her record shouldn't "work". But they do. The music industry is in constant search of something new. She fits the bill, and deserves her success. Now let's hope it doesn't go to her head.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Duffy Live@Radio1's Live Lounge

Duffy was on BBC Radio 1 today in Jo Whiley's "Live Lounge". (This is the Live Lounge website link.)
You can download the entire BBC broadcast in MP3 here.

Duffy performed an excellent version of "Mercy" and followed it up with a cover of Hot Chip's "Ready For the Floor", and chatted with Jo Whiley inbetween. Both songs were some of the best live performances I have ever heard and the "Ready For the Floor" cover was so different to the original version of the song by Hot Chip. It is a song that I really wasn't interested in until I heard Duffy's amazing cover of it... you can see "Mercy" below.

Vid of the cover of Hot Chip's "Ready For the Floor" is below.

22 Feb: Duffy Steps in on Jools Holland

Duffy stepped in at the last minute when Alicia Keys had a sore throat.

The backstage interview is below.

The Mercy performance is below.

Duffy's interview with Jools Holland (on the show) is below:

The Rockferry performance is below:

The Stepping Stone performance from this show is below:

22 Feb: Duffy Live@ The Ruby Lounge, Manchester

Tonight Duffy sang live at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester. Reviews pasted below.

Duffy @ The Ruby Lounge

Gary Ryan
23/ 2/2008

AMY Winehouse’s Back To Black was the biggest-selling album of last year and, leaping aboard the gravy train, 2008 has seen the unstoppable rise of the PG-Rated version of Camden’s finest: all the technical prowess but without the lurid personal life.

After Adele, Duffy is the latest Bisto kid for whom success seems something of a forgone conclusion. With her single Mercy resting at number one in the charts, this is less a gig and more a coronation.

Admittedly, it’s hard not to view the comely 23-year-old from a tiny seaside community on the tip of the Llyn Peninsula through cynicism-tinted glasses: Aimée Duffy was a contestant on the Welsh version of X Factor, and already has an album and EP under her belt, which sounded a million miles away from her new retro-chic sound.

It’s difficult to suppress the feeling that were Tesco shoppers to suddenly develop a predilection for Ed Banger-style electro, Duffy would be releasing an album filled with epic disco distortion and ear-splitting treble. It’s less Dusty In Memphis, more Lulu In Morrisions.

Authenticity aside, what she unquestionably has a terrific gutsy voice. At times, you think the band have simply put a CD on, although considering the stage height means half of the sold-out audience can’t actually see her, perhaps they might as well have.

Opening with Rockferry, the title track of her debut long-player, she ploughes professionally through a set of well-crafted early Philadelphia soul influenced songs, peppered with arrangements that recall producer Bernard Butler’s work with David McAlmont.

At the best, they’re great: Mercy is a confident Motown strut that recalls Charlotte Church’s Crazy Chick, Warwick Avenue sounds eerily similar to My Girl, while – best of all - the encore of Distant Dreamer is an epic, panoramic swoop of yearning worthy of the Ronettes.

Duffy at Ruby Lounge

Friday night saw one of the most hyped up gigs of the year so far, as the current chart topper and latest recruit to the 'next Amy Winehouse' brigade, Duffy, graced us with her presence at the Ruby Lounge.

The venue was crammed to the rafters with a mix of mods, Manchester's music aficionados and a fair few people who'd ventured away from their usual Friday night routine of a glass of wine and a take away to witness the 23 year old Welsh songbird in action.

Kicking off proceedings with the big radio favourite from late last year, 'Rockferry', I've got to admit that vocally she didn't disappoint. It’s just a shame that vocally is all most of those present experienced of her, as the majority only got to see her from the eyebrows up, thanks to the low stage and huge pillars.

As a result, there was a constant commotion as most of the crowd spent half the night repositioning themselves for a glimpse of her, with some resorting to using the view finder on their cameras as a mini tele, held aloft.

Thankfully, the evening was rescued by the fact that the girl can actually deliver the goods live - anything less and the bandwagon jumping members of the audience would've been straight on their internet forums knocking down the young starlet they've helped to build up so much, with a satisfied grin.

Indeed, such was the attitude of some of the crowd that midway through, as the tunes were flowing nicely, there was a sense that some were actually rushing her along to get to the big moment they'd all been waiting for, the inevitable finale of Mercy, which had everyone in the room - even some of the the bar staff - miming along and attempting to have a dance in the four inches of elbow room allocated to each person.

With the release of her album and some very satisfied punters, Duffy will be returning to the Ritz in May, a venue which will really compliment her retro style and please the Northern Soul-ers amongst tonight’s crowd. After all, when she plays there, there’ll not only be room to dance but a chance to actually see her too.

Big hair, panda eyes, soul voice, but Duffy insists: 'Don't call me the new Dusty!'

Daily Mail article today (22nd Feb), article is pasted below.

Big hair, panda eyes, soul voice, but Duffy insists: 'Don't call me the new Dusty!'


Young musicians often have a tendency to credit their parents' suspiciously hip record collections for setting them on the road to stardom.

With male rockers, great play is made of those old Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan albums found in the loft. For their female counterparts, Joni Mitchell or Carole King usually do the trick.

For Aimee Duffy, things were different. Growing up in a Welsh seaside village, where her mum and dad ran the local pub, she can't recall hearing music at all in her formative years.

Even when she hit her teens, listening to records was never a priority. Trying to explain just how she came to possess such a remarkably powerful voice, the fragile-looking 23-year-old, who likes to be known only by her surname, is almost lost for words.

"I always had a hunger to sing, but I don't know where I got my voice from," she says, sipping tea and speaking with a strong Welsh lilt.

"I'm still trying to figure out what my voice is capable of, just as I'm still learning how to write songs. There was never one defining moment when I realised I could sing.

"When I was a teenager, I liked Blur and Oasis, but I never bought any CDs. We didn't really have the money. Some people think it's odd that I didn't listen to records, but that's just the way it was. I was never one for fitting into a gang, and I didn't think I was missing anything."

Duffy might be a novice in her appreciation of pop history. But, with her current single, Mercy, at the top of the charts and her debut album, Rockferry, out next month, the petite singer is already adding her own impressive footnotes to the story.

One of the new breed of female artists who have emerged in the past year, Duffy's emotionally bruised vocals, black eye-liner and old fashioned glamour have seen her likened to Sixties pop queen Dusty Springfield.

But her album and a recent live residency at the Pigalle Club in London align her more closely to the retro-soul stylings of Joss Stone or Corinne Bailey Rae.

Duffy, who reveals occasional traces of vulnerability behind her bubbly facade, isn't too keen on the Sixties associations, and it's easy to see why: the big, melodramatic arrangements on Rockferry come not from her, but from her producer, former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler.

"I still don't really know what a Sixties record sounds like," admits Duffy. "I only got given my first soul boxed-set about a year ago. To me, Bernard was pure rock 'n' roll. He didn't play me soul songs. He played me David Bowie and The Rolling Stones. It wasn't a nostalgia thing.

"But I can't be light-hearted about being compared with a singer like Dusty Springfield. It's easy for people to drop names like that, because they have a lot of resonance. But it's also unexpected. It's like saying a car is the same as a train just because the two of them move.

"The way I look isn't a Sixties thing. I just like pinning my hair up and wearing big jumpers. I think that the way I dress is really mumsy.

"I wear eye-liner, just like all my friends. All my friends dress in a pretty similar way to me. My look isn't that far removed from what's going on now."

Although her parents, John and Joyce, are separated, Duffy looks back fondly on her childhood in North Wales.

Until she was 11, she lived in the coastal town of Nefyn, on the Llyn Peninsula. Not long after her parents split up, she moved with her mother and two sisters (one of whom is her twin) to Pembrokeshire.

"Because they ran a pub, my mum and dad would do alternate shifts. We rarely saw them together, but we had a great relationship with them both. The pub was really a smoky, working men's club with leather seats and a snooker table, but I felt proud that my parents ran it.

"They tried to separate when I was six, but I cried so much that they stayed together. That was very cruel of me really, but my mum is a lovely woman and she didn't want to hurt us.

"They finally separated when I was nine. As kids, we weren't really aware of the emotional side of it, but I guess there was quite an upheaval. I don't like to dwell on the negative side. I'm not someone who takes the scars with me. It happened and I've learned how to live with it."

Duffy's first break as a singer came in 2003 when she finished as runner-up on Waw Ffactor, a Welsh language version of Pop Idol that featured former Catatonia guitarist Owen Powell as a judge.

"Waw Ffactor happened a long time before X Factor," Duffy says. "It wasn't a phenomenon in the way The X Factor is now. People didn't watch it for the drama. All the other contestants had family members there with banners, but I turned up on my own.

"At first, I wanted to back out, but I thought that would make me look stupid. So I carried on, and I kept winning through the rounds. I had no one there to celebrate with, so every time I won, there was hardly any clapping. I still don't know why I did it, really."

Unsure of where she wanted to head musically, Duffy went through a crisis of confidence before being introduced to her future manager, Jeanette Lee, by Powell and another Welsh indie-rocker, Richard Parfitt of the 60 Foot Dolls.

A director of respected independent label Rough Trade, Lee became Duffy's mentor, and encouraged her to really stretch her voice.

She hasn't looked back, spending four years co-writing the songs for Rockferry, many of them with Bernard Butler, and gaining the confidence to parade her talents in public.

"Before meeting the people at Rough Trade, I took a long, hard look at myself. I asked myself what I was really looking for. I had been working with various bands and writers, but I didn't really respect myself enough. Rough Trade helped me to believe in myself."

Her first meeting with Butler, now making great strides as a producer, proved a turning point in helping Duffy focus on what she really wanted from her career.

"He was the first person who seemed to understand me. I was introduced to this long-haired guy in skinny jeans. I didn't even know who he was, but we went out for a chat and within ten minutes I had the ideas for some songs.

"At first, I found it hard to articulate myself, because I didn't have the right musical reference points. I came out with some ridiculous things. I said I wanted something big. Rough Trade thought I meant that I wanted to be a big star. What I wanted was to do something big sonically."

With Mercy just a taster, the tiny Duffy is about to be big on just about every count.