Every year at SXSW, you can hardly walk down Sixth Street without catching wind of some artist or another who's "the one" on the verge of a breakout. This year, though, one of the biggest buzz acts was definitely Duffy, a petite blond Welsh singer who's debut album, Rockferry, is currently No. 1 in the U.K. (it's scheduled to be released stateside in May). Because her first single, the hook-filled "Mercy," had just begun making the rounds, few in Austin had actually heard her music--but a lot had heard about her. Her showcase at Stubb's Saturday night was plenty full.
Duffy got an ear-catching 1960s pop-soul style that channels vintage singers such as Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, and Sammi Smith. Comparisons to Amy Winehouse (who made her U.S. debut at last year's SXSW) ran rampant, though truth is they're only vaguely justified: both artists have obvious love for a vintage '60s R&B sound, but Duffy's is big, wide, and lush--polished, even--while Winehouse keeps things funkier and more raw.… Read more