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Album Review: Jamie Lidell - 'Compass'

Funk-Soul Brotha

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By

Album Review: Jamie Lidell - 'Compass'
© Warp Records.
He started out as an electronic music producer and musician, but ever since his 2005 album, Multiply, British crooner Jamie Lidell has added more and more Soul elements to his music. And on his latest release, Compass (released in the United States on May 18 2010), Jamie proves yet again that Soul knows no gender, race or geographic boundaries. Compass is more consistent than his other albums when it comes to song quality and Jamie's vocal ability has become noticeably stronger. There's a few clunky songs that keep the album from being near-perfect, but this is definitely his best solo album so far.

North, South, East, West

One of the better things about Compass is that Jamie Lidell adds a dose of funk to some of the songs, giving the album a strong funk-Soul vibe reminiscent of some of Prince's past work. Not to say that Jamie's on the same level as His Purple Majesty talent-wise or creatively, but this album shows that there's definitely some similarities between their approaches to music. For instance, "I Wanna Be Your Telephone" sounds like a cousin of Prince's "Erotic City" (musically speaking, not content-wise), and "Your Sweet Boom" also has some subtle Prince influences.

But although the music is occasionally funky, Jamie's voice is still deeply embedded in Soul. Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and other '70s legends are all represented within Jamie's vocals as usual, but he also seems to be evolving into a more of a versatile performer and someone who's willing to break the mold and incorporate other music genres into his style. For example, on both the title track and "Big Drift," his vocal style sounds close to that of Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder; and on the album's final track, "You See My Light," his voice has a folksy cadence to it.

Overall, the album's not exactly a masterpiece, but Jamie gets credit for thinking outside the regular R&B/Soul box and bringing new ideas to the table. This isn't your run-of-the-mill, by-the-numbers retro-Soul album. It's a funk-soul meets indie rock that's creative and catchy. Although Jamie's singing may not quite be up there with the best in the business, his range of skills are strong enough make the album listenable from top to bottom.

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