The Farr Side: ‘Rockferry’ is modern music from another time

David T. Farr

Welsh singer Duffy’s debut album, “Rockferry,” might be the best debut album so far this year.

Its timing is perfect. I had been yearning to grasp on to something new and be excited about it. I had even had a recent conversation with a friend about that very thing. It was time for somebody or something new to emerge, I just didn’t know it would be a sound fashioned from a time gone by.

At first listen, you’d swear “Rockferry” was something straight out of mid-’60s Britain. It has it all powerful and soulful female vocals, lush choruses, swooning hooks, exquisite orchestral arrangements and the distinctive wall of sound that warrants repeated listens.

I immediately channeled in thoughts of Dusty Springfield and Lulu when I heard the opening lines to the album’s title track. I was instantly blown away at how awesome the song is and what a huge voice this girl possesses.

Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black” had a similar effect on me last summer, but with Winehouse, you have to listen with a grain of salt.

Duffy’s debut single and current radio smash, “Mercy,” prompted me to learn more. “Mercy” stands out from anything else on the radio today. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it was somehow lost in transmission for 40 years only to find its way to the modern music landscape.

I couldn’t have been more pleased with my decision to buy the album. That isn’t always a safe bet with a new artist. Nothing is worse than buying a CD only to find out it has only one good song.

I didn’t expect to find an entire album as good as its first single, if not better.

“Rockferry” opens the album. It’s a 10 in my book. Its slow-building, atmospheric sound creates an incredible dramatic feel that pulls you in. Duffy delivers the lyrics like a seasoned pro, with a style beyond her years. The guitar work by Bernard Butler is phenomenal. It would definitely be the next single, if it were up to me.

The tracks “Serious,” “Delayed Devotion” and “Warwick Avenue” continue to conjure up Springfield comparisons, whereas the song “Syrup & Honey” is a sexy, bluesy number, showcasing her more gritty vocal side.

Other amazing standouts include “I’m Scared” and “Distant Dreamer,” again, both 10s.

“I’m Scared” shows off her depth as a vocalist. She wraps herself around the wistful lyrics as if she’s living them right then and there.

Like the title track, the album’s closer, “Distant Dreamer,” is top-notch in every respect. I find myself turning up the volume more as the song plays on, especially near the end, when the orchestral arrangements close out the CD. It’s beautiful.

Duffy is a welcome breath of fresh air amid a smog-filled manufactured music world. It was time for “Rockferry.”

David T. Farr is a Sturgis (Mich.) Journal correspondent. E-mail him at