PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 April, 2008, 12:00am




Young, unworldly and blessed with a magnetic voice, Duffy stands out in a pop world awash with manufactured acts.

The 23-year-old has the husky tones and emotion of Dusty Springfield, but her debut album sounds surprisingly mature for a woman who confesses to feeling inexperienced and out-of-place.

Rockferry's cover looks like a still from iconic British 1960s film Billy Liar, and the retro soul influences are unmistakable.

Still, the music doesn't sound dated which is perhaps why Rockferry went straight to No1 in Britain where it's the fastest-selling album of the year so far.

The title track is slow to build and has no chorus, but as Duffy's voice intensifies so does the emotion of the song until she's at full range belting out a tale of struggle and desire.

Second single Mercy - the first by a British artist to reach No1 solely on downloads - has a sensual raunchiness that's reminiscent of Amy Winehouse, without the nasal delivery. Her dreamy style continues with Warwick Avenue and Serious - the latter harking back to the pure all-girl sound of the 60s.

Hailing from an isolated Welsh village, with only her mother's meagre record collection to listen to, Duffy grew up with little idea of what was considered cool. Her break came when Jeanette Lee (formerly of PiL) at Rough Trade Records picked up her demo. Lee became her manager and mentor and, crucially, introduced her to her songwriting partners on Rockferry, which include former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler who co-wrote four of the tracks and is responsible for the richly textured wall-of-sound production.

These partnerships and her incredible voice mean we finally have a soul singer to match Duffy's wild press coverage and commercial success.