There is a gulf in attitude between the US and Britain over soul songster Omar Lye Fook, and the gap is telling. Over here, he is remembered as the young hipster behind the seductive classic "There's Nothing Like This" from 1990 and precious little else.
In America, artists who have been praising him as an influence (Erykah Badu and Maxwell notably; Stevie Wonder also adores him) are not so much in love with that one-off single as with Omar the whole man, the multi- instrumentalist of thoroughbred talent.
After "There's Nothing Like This", it seemed to most here that Omar had disappeared, but the Americans knew better. Part of his Brit-hit famine can be put down to piles of record label calamities, but maybe a lot of it comes down to a lack of respect for home-grown soul. But Omar's career has hit bounce-back mode.
He has proved a point - to have survived this far, he is vindicated as a special songwriter and a battling spirit. The irony is, listening to his recent hit single, "Say Nothin", he never lost his touch for poppy directness and soul with an intoxicating warmth. The new album (his sixth), This is Not a Love Song, follows the same path and is full of instant pleasure melodies and shiny tunefulness.
Tracks such as the cover of the Stranglers' "Golden Brown" and the employment of Stevie Wonder's ex-wife Syreeta Wright are particularly interesting, but the whole package is designed to be as luxurious a trip as possible. But because Omar is a dynamic songwriter, artful musicianship is at work, even at its most manicured moments. Perhaps the years in semi-obscurity have served Omar well and he has learned to be particularly devious - he uses vintage soul and jazz values but in a pop framework, to make his songs accessible to the sort of people who really did think he had vanished.
The London show will be his first solo appearance in three years here. He is obviously good enough for the United States; it's time we realised he is more than good enough for us as well.
EYE ON THE NEW Travis present fine pop with barbed lyrics; they are currently chartbound with a sparkling new single and have been asked to play with Oasis. One of the support bands for this night are quartet The Yellow Monkey - Japan's top rock troupe, apparently. Cultural anthropologists should get there nice and early.
Astoria, Charing Cross Road, London WC2 (0171-434 0403) 12 AugReuse content