Duffy: RockferryIt’s a testament to how silly pop culture gets that there’s been a bit of controversy swirling around Duffy, the UK phenom who went from Spin’s “who’s next” to Spin’s cover over the course of five short months. You see, Aimee Anne Duffy is a young white girl from rural North Wales, and she sings sultry torch songs in the soul tradition. Earlier this year she got dinged by young UK soul artist Adele for sucking up media attention that ought to be going to black soul artists, who are presumably more authentic.

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Anyway, whatever the cultural baggage, Duffy’s debut album Rockferry is crackling good. She’s got a voice not that far from Amy Winehouse’s, if about a register higher, but surrounds it with music that’s more stately and old-fashioned. (She’s annoyed by the Dusty Springfield comparison, so I won’t make it. Ahem.) She’s not afraid to belt it out either. This is a blues-tinged number called “Syrup & Honey,” not necessarily my favorite on the album but the one that does the most to highlight her astonishing voice.

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