On her follow-up to the well-received “Rockferry” (2008),Welsh singer Duffy moves a step forward from her trademark retro/soul sound. The single “Well Well Well” (recorded in collaboration with The Roots) takes her music to a whole new level thanks to the Philadelphia group’s fine arrangement, and the opening track “My Boy” is refreshing take on current Europop.
There are, however, a few misfires: the pro-life “I’m Keeping My Baby” sounds too close to Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” in message and sound—even the hook has the same words. “Hard for the Heart” sounds misplaced with its weak lyrics and iffy arrangement.
That is no reason to dismiss her, though. There are many strong moments that make this a disc to pay close attention to: “Girl” is a fun uptempo tune in which she warns a rival to stay away from her man—or else (Duffy is not one to play an insecure, hurt lover). “Too Hurt to Dance” is a gentle sixties-inspired ballad in which a brokenhearted girl asks the DJ to “turn the music down” as she drowns her sorrows in alcohol.
Many British reviewers canned “Endlessly” because Duffy distanced herself from British soul in order to come closer to a more American R&B sound (journalists across the pond tend to be a bit vengeful), but this makes her sound even more approachable to international audiences. Now let’s just hope she takes this album on the road. (Ernest Barteldes)