A great review by The Observer. Pasted in below.
The retro-chic soul star has come a long way from her dodgy past, writes Craig McLean
Sunday February 17, 2008
She's a kohl-eyed siren from the vicinity of the geographical elbow formed by Merseyside and north Wales. She's spent a few years getting to the point where her retro-fresh 'pop noir' got noticed. Now experienced hands are helping shape her staggering but perhaps inchoate talents. Tomorrow, surely, belongs to her.
But that's enough about Candie Payne. Say hello to Duffy, the 23-year-old singer born Aimée-Ann Duffy who is, as countless pundits have declared, the Sound of 2008, the New Amy Winehouse, or simply the Welsh Adele.
Timing is everything in pop. Last spring, Liverpudlian Payne released I Wish I Could Have Loved You More. It bristled with great tunes and Payne's cool, smoky voice, the whole thing swaddled in Dusty in Memphis-meets-Merseybeat atmos. Blimey, it even featured Mark Ronson's production. But all those (eight) months ago, La Winehouse hadn't yet gone up in a puff of crack smoke, so we didn't need a new one. Plus, spring isn't January, so no one was writing new year/new musical broom features. Payne's album did OK but little more.
But Duffy, mining the same rich seam of musical history, is rocket-powered already. And propitious alignment of the media stars aside, it's not hard to hear why: Rockferry is a fantastic album of burning blue soul. In particular, 'Mercy' is a big, booming, finger-wagging sashay worthy of the Supremes. 'Syrup and Honey', with its monochrome echoes of 'I Can't Help Falling in Love With You', is a ballad you can imagine Elvis singing. 'Hanging on Too Long' is a melodramatic belter easily the equal of anything on Back to Black.
The magical aura is reinforced by bafflement: how did this shy and fluttery woman-girl, from a remote, Welsh-speaking part of the country, arrive so fully formed, channelling the sounds of far-off Memphis and decades-gone Detroit? Well, it's not quite been a natural-born breeze: Duffy has been working on Rockferry for almost four years. She's co-written with producer Bernard Butler (Sixties-obsessed ex-Suede guitarist), Jimmy Hogarth (a KT Tunstall collaborator), Eg White (Ivor Novello-winning scribe for Will Young) and Steve Booker (who's written for everyone from Natalie Imbruglia to Marti Pellow; Lindsay Lohan to the Bratz dolls). And before she arrived at this retro-chic sound, Duffy was a contestant on the Welsh incarnation of X Factor, resulting in her releasing an album and an EP. On the latter (released under the name Aimée Duffy and available from iTunes), she's a mix between Evanescence and Clannad. She had a yellow-blonde feather-cut then, not a peroxide-white beehive. Her official biog - and most of her interviews - don't mention this step along the way.
Brilliantly, though, on Rockferry you can't hear the joins. The closing track, 'Distant Dreamer', is an epic, orchestral stab of longing. A young Welsh woman channelling the Walker Brothers? Now that's clever.