How do you tell if an artiste you hear on the radio is a singer-songwriter?
They don’t change their name. And for some reason, their name is usually quirky or unconventional.
Jason Mraz, Chental Kreviazuk, Norah Jones, Delta Goodrem, Imogen Heap, KT Tunstall, Colbie Caillat, Alanis Morissette, Ari Hest, Raul Midon.
Some break the mould with the most unimaginative names like Jack Johnson. But don’t you be dissin’ him, he’s got some magic percussion on his fingers yo!
Does it look like any of them changed their names to get on stage? Maybe, if you were Engelbert Humperdinck (that’s not his real name by the way.)
So, when Azrie of Universal Music emailed me and gave me a sampler of Welsh singer-songwriter Aimee Anne Duffy‘s music, I knew I was in for some home-brewed self-written music to sit on an armchair and drink tea to.
Mercy starts off with a raspy black voice. Yes, I like it when my women sound black, yo. This marks her sound, in the key of soul. Rockferry is thematic and dramatic, and yet it pulls a slow pace. This makes an excellent backdrop for a movie, when the female protagonist is running through the streets, discovering her freedom from her chains.
Warwick Avenue has this all-too-familiar vibe. It makes it certain, if she drives the musical direction of the band, who her influences are. It’s all modern heartbroken-girl soul, but one might sense a bit of rock from the roll of the Rolling Stones to a minor tinge of Smashing Pumpkins. Maybe, just maybe. And yet, it all mashes into a pop package.
Serious has that British drawl with a certain seductiveness. Distant Dreamer is encouraging.
Pop soul production is slick, but I could fault the band for sounding too perfect and mechanical. I felt that the band went from one part to another too seamlessly, that you wouldn’t be able to pick out a transition, when sometimes transitions can be the most memorable parts of songs that everybody sings aloud in cars. Like, where are the little drum rolls and guitar licks that are completely legitimate on a real soul record? They are there but are too subtle. Fortunately, Warwick Avenue had a symphonic part which was great.
Okay, so it’s not a full soul record, I only sampled 5 songs, and none of them have that live, jammy feeling that a live band would have when you see band members smiling at each other when they complete a part and add a little riff. Even in Mercy, when she says “break it down!” I don’t feel like they really “broke it down“. It’s like, she has soul, but the band doesn’t.
Does all my nitpicking matter? Not so – if you love one song, you’d love the album.