But while the petite blonde from Wales had been working diligently for her moment in the spotlight, when it came, she didn’t feel quite like she earned all that adulation.
“I remember playing for 60,000 people thinking, `You only know me for 10 songs,'” she said recently. “I want to show you that there’s more. I want to earn that kind of celebration.”
She’s hoping to do that with “Endlessly.” Her sophomore album (a new term for Duffy that she delightfully pronounces “soft-more”) is a bit more upbeat than her debut, “Rockferry,” and features collaborations with Al Hammond Sr. and ?uestlove from The Roots.
“I’m bringing more aspects of myself to this record,” she said. “I’m a catalog artist now! … It kind of feels surreal.”
The Associated Press: You’re working with new people on this record. Why switch things up when the first album was such a success?
Duffy: It would be easy for someone to rest on their laurels. … But for me, I wanted to keep testing myself, to (keep) challenging myself, and actually it happened quite accidentally that I ended up working with other people.
AP: What did Hammond and ?uestlove bring to the table?
Duffy: Well, it was an interesting mix of people: Myself from Wales, 26 years old; Albert Hammond from Gibraltar, sort of Spanish influence, who is 66; and then you had The Roots, who are a bunch of really cool young guys, notorious for their unbelievable hip-hop rhythm section. I think it was daring but I was very happy with what came back.
AP: You’ve said that you didn’t want to make a sad album. Did you think your debut was sad?
Duffy: I don’t want to exploit my music just to release the baggage. I don’t want to say the things that I regretted saying or the things that I never said in my music. I want to use it as expression and I want to make people feel good. Whether it’s crying, whether it’s dancing, I’m very conscious of not plowing too much of the bad times into my music.
AP: Were you worried about following up such a successful debut?
Duffy: If you can be successful in your second record, you’ve kind of made it, you’re kind of in it to stay, I think. So of course there’s that element of pressure. But for me personally, I was looking forward to writing new music. I was looking forward to earn the respect that I was given.
AP: Your sound has that retro appeal. Did you consider trying something different with this one?
Duffy: I know I’m always compared to this nostalgic sound. I’ve often been asked whether me being retro is something that I try to do. But I’ve always been really old-fashioned. I’ve always had this way about me and a kind of longing for romance, idealism, the 1950s. I think things were a little safer then. I think it was easier for artists to keep hold of their quality control. I don’t think anyone was taking pictures of Marilyn Monroe when she was in a shopping mall. … I do feel as though I do belong to something nostalgic.
AP: How have you grown artistically since the last record?
Duffy: I’ve grown in so many ways. The experiences that I’ve had have been tremendous. The mistakes I’ve made have been tremendous. The accolades that I’ve received have been beyond anything that I could have comprehended. … I’m more experienced with life. I came from a small town before, I really felt like I small-town girl as well. I was constantly saying things that I was embarrassed of in a business meeting. … I had a lot to learn, and I think you can hear that in the songs that I’ve learned it.