Grainne Duffy – Where I Belong | Album Review

Gràinne Duffy – Where I Belong


CD: 10 Songs, 37:17 Minutes

Styles: Acoustic Blues and Folk, All Original Songs

Gràinne (rhymes with “Anya”) Duffy is a thoroughly Irish maid with a thoroughly Irish name. Her voice, like a summer storm in her home country, would give Bonnie Raitt on “Angel from Montgomery” a serious run for her money. Does she play the blues? Acoustic blues, yes, but she leans to the folk/easy-listening side of such. On her third CD, Where I Belong, she pours out all she has and then some. Fact: Singing is hard. Fact: Vocalists must put a ton of effort into aspects such as pitch, tone, timbre, vibrato, etc. Fact: Duffy does all of this like an Olympic champion, making the impossible seem effortless. Even when she warbles common words like “here” and “cigarette,” they sound like the most beautiful ones in the English language. “Don’t You Wanna Know” flows from her mouth like the source of a stream, not snagging on any ‘throat rocks.’ As the icing on the cake, Gràinne is a skillful guitar player, neither being too soft nor too intense.  This constitutes the good news. The bad news is that blues purists won’t find much water here. Songs like “Home” (reviewed below) contain great blues-rock riffs, but all ten aren’t like it.

According to Duffy’s promotional information sheet, audiences the world over are celebrating after seeing her perform at famous music festivals including Glastonbury, Blue Balls, Blues du Passion, and Tremblant International Festival. Last year, she had the honor of recording with Justin Stanley (Beck, Eric Clapton) and multi-Grammy Award-winning engineer Adam Ayan (Madonna, the Rolling Stones). Raised in Castleblayney, Ireland (Monaghan County), Gràinne was inspired to study the powerful influences of blues music, mainly the three Kings: Albert, BB and Freddie. In 2007, she released her debut Out of the Dark, leading to a Glastonbury gig.

Performing alongside Gràinne on lead vocals and guitar are co-songwriter Paul Sherry on backing vocals and guitar; Shawn Davis on bass guitar; Aaron Sterling and Aaron Redfield on drums; Tyler Chester on keyboards and piano; Justin Stanley on piano, acoustic guitar and background vocals; Chris Bruce on lead guitar for track ten, Danny Donnelly on lead guitar for track seven, and Doyle Bramhall II on lead guitar for track two.

Track 04: “Home” – A country-blues ballad with a blazing heart, Duffy proclaims, “My only home is you” at the end of the chorus. One can’t beat the smooth blending of the instruments or the background vocals that are to die for. Whether listeners are on the road or in their own sweet domicile, they’ll rejoice in the simple beauty of this song. It doesn’t have a lot of fancy editing or studio polish, but “Home” does not require either. “Step into the moonlight in the middle of a cool night.”

Gràinne Duffy may not play pure blues, but golly, folk and acoustic majesty is Where I Belong!

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