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Duffy is Aimee Anne Duffy, a 23-year old Welsh singer-songwriter who's already a sensation in the UK and has been getting compared to Dusty Springfield. It's easy to see why. The throaty, gusty vocals paired with '60s-style orchestral arrangements, a flair for musical melodrama, the petite frame and the cotton candy blonde hairdo.

While it may be a little early in the game to say that Duffy is the new Dusty, there is definitely something cool and soulful going on here. First of all, the sound of the album is refreshingly real and live. Ensemble playing with big room reverberation and tasteful orchestral touches bring soaring ballads like "Serious," "Stepping Stone," "Hanging On Too Long," and the standout "Warwick Avenue" to glorious life.

Duffy strikes me as a singer who can really sing, free of computer patchwork and pitch correction (it's actually a relief to hear occasional flat notes in name of retaining performance and character). She has a nuanced sense of phrasing and restraint that's rare for one her age. And while you get the sense that she's got the diva chops to overdo it, she holds back, choosing her moments. Those moments can be thrilling, as on the clarion call chorus on "Distant Dreamer" and the rideouts on Motown-ish workout "Delayed Devotion" (great Smokey-ish title there) and the hard-grooving single, "Mercy."

Hats off to producers Bernard Butler, Jimmy Hogarth and Steve Booker for surrounding Duffy with a wall of sound that manages to sound retro and modern at the same time.

Along with Amy Winehouse and Adele, Duffy is part of a growing movement of old-school R & B-ish singers coming out of Britain at the moment. Judging from the combination of songs, production, and performance on this album, Duffy may be the one who endures.
• Bill DeMain

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