Duffy’s sophomore album, “Endlessly,” is a disappointment. Despite her distinct vocals, the album is itself undistinguished, and its few strong tracks cannot save the rest, which lull along, uninspired.
“Endlessly” opens with “My Boy,” a catchy little pop song that follows the generic format of one phrase, repeated over and over – but it’s not terrible, so you listen on in hopes of songs more substantive, more worthy of Duffy’s old-school seductive voice. Enter “Too Hurt to Dance,” the second track on the album and one of its few gems, a sad and slow ballad that showcases Duffy’s at once delicate and determined pipes with a retro tone that pervades throughout the album. It’s the kind of song you might listen to if you got your heart broken in the 1950s, but the following tracks, “Keeping My Baby,” “Don’t Forsake Me” and “Breath Away” are the kind of songs you wouldn’t want to listen to at all: the lyrics are boring at best and completely cliché at worst, and you start to wonder what, exactly, sets Duffy apart from anyone with a smoky voice.
“Well, Well, Well,” the single off the album, is a bit of a break from the mundane, with a 1970s power-pop sound that proves Duffy is, in fact, capable of more. But even it doesn’t satisfy my desire to hear Duffy belt out something powerful, something worth blasting and shouting, something worthy of her voice.
My favorite song on the album – and the only one I’ll be listening to again – is the title track, “Endlessly.” Duffy’s voice is at its best, crooning out lyrics that are at once hopeful and forlorn. It’s as if Duffy’s voice was made for that kind of reluctant sadness, and though the lyrics are simple, they come off as honest where the rest of the album comes off as contrived. For example, in “Breath Away,” Duffy muses entirely in clichés, “I have such regrets, it’s you I can’t forget…Oh baby, it hurts, you’re taking my breath away.” On “Girl,” she sounds like a pouting pre-teen, “Stay away from here forever, ’cause he’s mine, and I love him, so girl stay away.” It’s a little bit funny and a little bit sad, and overall, it’s just a waste of potential and momentum.
It takes more than voice to make an album, it takes vision. And in that department, Duffy’s latest endeavor is endlessly lacking.