(Aimee Ann Duffy/Jimmy Hogarth/Eg White)
Duffy is another in the recent flush of heirs to Dusty Springfield's blue-eyed crown, but she lacks the self-destructive tendencies of Amy Winehouse, and she's more restrained (okay, and prettier) than Joss Stone. It amazes me how all these British gals manage to make themselves sound as though they grew up in West Memphis.
"Warwick Avenue" is three minutes and 47 seconds of pure pop delight; it manages to sound held back and raw at the same time. And it somehow aches like the best soul (brown- or blue-eyed) while never feeling dangerous. My mother would love this song. And if that sounds like an indictment, you've bought into the Winehouse myth way too strongly.
The little reggae beat on the verse is nice enough, but the kicker, of course, is the chorus hook: "You think you're lovely, but you don't love me." It's straight out of your seventh-grade notebook, but Duffy sings it with utter sincerity and complete calm. She doesn't need the vocal histrionics of U.S. pretenders to the R&B throne--Mariah Carey or even Beyonce would slaughter this song--and it's her self-control that makes such a pedestrian moment perfect.