Album: Jamie Lidell, Jim (Warp)

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Back at the turn of the millennium, Jamie Lidell was a cutting-edge electronic musician, crooning over abstract, fractured beats and jittery synth blips as one-half of Super_Collider, whose stylistic lineage owed much to earlier techno-romantic pioneers like Suicide and Cabaret Voltaire. So it was no surprise when the wider world proved (still) not yet ready for their odd mix of itchy insect grooves and soulman emoting. Accordingly, Lidell took a mainstream swerve in the direction of classic Seventies funk for 2005's Multiply, and secured the plaudits of such pop-tastic icons as Elton John and Lenny Kravitz.

With Jim, he moves still further in the direction of the broadly palatable: some would say too far, as the distance separating Lidell from Jamiroquai on a track like "Figured Me Out" becomes increasingly hard to measure without an electron microscope. Like Jay Kay, Lidell has that whole Stevie Wonder thing down pat, but on a track like "Another Day", it's not the Stevie of Talking Book and Innervisions, but the one that produced "Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday" instead, a far less inspirational sound. Still, that's much more welcome than "Out of My System", on which Lidell's phrasing sounds alarmingly similar to Terence Trent D'Arby, whose talents proved inadequate to the task of sustaining an audience.

Watch Jamie Lidell's video for Little Bit of Feel Good





If Lidell succeeds any better in courting popularity, it'll be due in large part to the redoubled focus on decent tunes here, compared with Multiply. Lidell ensured that the sketches he delivered to co-producer Dominic "Mocky" Salole (Peaches, Feist) and chief collaborator, pianist Jason "Gonzalez" Beck, could survive whatever form was imposed on them, whether it be the blend of Leon Russell-esque piano and Motown-style backing vocals on the catchy "Wait For Me", or the weird, urgent stride beat of "Hurricane".

Best of all is the late-Fifties R&B bumper "Where D'You Go?", whose rumbustious swing groove is built around Gonzalez's piano and an ingenious alliance of tambourine and handclaps; and most rewarding of all, "All I Wanna Do", which resembles the exotic offspring of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" and Aretha's "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man". It's the most impressive piece here in terms of conception and execution, although lyrically, only the concluding "Rope of Sand" possesses a message that sticks firmly in the memory. "So much I don't understand, but one thing I know," sings Lidell, "every day is a rope of sand, we should be learning to let it go."

Pick of the Album: 'All I Wanna Do', 'Wait For Me', 'Little Bit of Feelgood', 'Where D'You Go?'

Comments