London songstress Doll Duncan started building a reputation for slick and emotive pop following the release of her song Roll in 2015, with Ivor Novello winning song-writer Guy Chambers tipping her as a future star. On the face of it then, dropping off the radar for a year to hole up in New York seems counter-intuitive. The decision has paid off in spades though. Hurricane contains five impressively well-written, emotional tracks, all beautifully sung.
Opening track Love Light marries more delicate verses to a soaring chorus, Duncan’s vocals riding over a cresting synth motif. Of the five tracks on offer it’s the most obvious single, straight up pop with a hint of the Sophie Ellis Bextors in the vocal delivery.
Rescue Us though immediately gives us an insight into why Duncan is not just another one hit wonder indie-pop starlet. There’s an undercurrent of soul through the vocal here, and the prominence of guitar in this second track, with the synth used as additional colour, rather than to the fore, hints at a direction that could really set Duncan apart, as well as showcase her ability as a vocalist.
I wish there was more of this approach throughout the EP. It sometimes veers a little too close to generic pop, but it’s that vocal that pulls it back. Grenade for example is a solid pop song, whilst nothing spectacular, but is given extra cred by it’s delivery. There’s a potent combination of delicate vulnerability masking a powerful undertone that makes for some really electric moments. The ever-so-slightly jazzy title track which closes the EP is the prime example of this, and the stand-out moment for it.
Hurricane is a strong mission statement, and provides an impressive platform on which to build. Duncan knows how to expertly craft a pop song, but if she can consistently strike that balance between punctilious song-writing and allowing herself the space for the raw emotional delivery she does so well, she’ll be on to something special.
Pull Me Away