x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Duffy is Endlessly pitch perfect

While no artist should be faulted for trying new things, Duffy here is at her best when on familiar ground.

Duffy

Endlessly

(Polydor)

It's no easy task, but Duffy's heartfelt, pitch-perfect pastiches of 1960s soul caught the imaginations of both indie and easy-listening fans in 2007, thanks in no small part to the beautifully epic production and songwriting of the ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler. If there was a downside, it was that Duffy arrived so fully formed. Grammy awards and 6.5 million sales of Rockferry later, it was difficult to see where she might go next. The answer, if the horns and shrill chorus of her comeback single Well, Well, Well are any guide, is to sound worryingly like Lulu. Thankfully, that similarity doesn't last long, but when Duffy does try to push the envelope slightly - her semi-rap on Lovestruck is ill-advised, to say the least - it feels strangely misjudged. It's undeniably odd to criticise a multimillion-selling artist for trying new things, but Endlessly tries a little too hard to be popular, upbeat, and polished. Perhaps that's down to Bernard Butler's replacement by the veteran songwriter Albert Hammond - the father of the Strokes guitarist and responsible for the likes of the Hollies' The Air that I Breathe. Too often, the songs he's provided are bland and featureless. The problem, really, is that she's still remarkably adept at the vintage, tremulous soul that brought her to attention in the first place. When she slows down - particularly on Keeping My Baby - it feels authentic and moving, and Endlessly truly soars. Elsewhere, it's a disappointment.

 

Wings

Band on the Run

(UMTV)

A remastered and repackaged reissue of Wings' 1973 classic album, considered to be Paul McCartney's best work post-Beatles, is at the centre of this nicely-priced three-disc box set. Bonuses include nine extra tracks, plus a DVD containing live performances.

 

N.Dubz

Love.Life.Live

(Def Jam)

London's grime pop sensation NDubz is one of the most successful British chart acts in recent years and with their third album comes a self-proclaimed mission to break America. Their high-energy raps about raving, spending and generally being urban rascals, though unmistakably English, could make the same impressive inroads as Lady Sovereign.