The breezy, Blondie-esque pop tune, “My Boy,” sets the tone for a well-crafted album from beginning to end. The cutesy-wootsy preening that grated on her debut, Rockferry, comes with a mature finish on her sophomore effort, Endlessly. With her first album, Duffy often sounded as if she knew she was in the shadow of Amy Winehouse with Adele and Lykke Li on her heels to win fans across the pond. None of the tracks on Endlessly try too hard. Whether speaking of sweethearts or heartbreak, the sincerity and confidence pours out of every song. Her voice at times is still an acquired taste, but with Albert Hammond’s precise production, Endlessly commands respect if not constant iPod rotation.
With touches of disco (“Keeping My Baby”), Perry Como (“Don’t Forsake Me”) and a hint of C&C Music Factory (“Well, Well, Well”, featuring The Roots), Duffy keeps the album moving with a fantastic combination of dance floor ready songs and tracks of innocent longing. Not afraid to kick it old school, she uses her tremulous warble on the title track to perfect nostalgic effect, sounding like a dreamy prom night tune by The Shangri-Las.
While not explicitly a concept or homage album, Endlessly captures a retro American sound reminiscent of sock hops and drive-ins so subtly, that the album could have been called Effortlessly. Keeping the bells and whistles to a minimum makes it easier to focus on the artist, not the hype. The clear vision of Endlessly puts Duffy ahead of the pack of soul-inspired Euro invaders of the past couple years.