If retro is the new progressive, then Jamie Lidell is miles ahead when it comes to bringing the past to the present. On his third solo album, Jim, which comes out in the U.S. on April 29, 2008, the British singer has nearly perfected the whole Blue-Eyed Soul thing. Jim isn't perfect, but it's definitely a step up from Jamie's second album, 2005's Multiply. Multiply had its moments but was very uneven. Jim has more great moments, fewer flaws and overall better production than Multiply. Again, it isn't perfect, but anyone who enjoyed Multiply should probably be equally, if not more, receptive to this album.
On his third album on indie Warp Records, singer-musician Jamie Lidell - or Jim, as his friends call him - continues making pleasant, uptempo British Blued-Eyed Soul. No one aspect of his music is outstanding - the vocals, lyrics and production are all just about average - but his passion for old-school R&B and Soul music is admirable. If you're looking for a poppier version of the retro R&B made by other Brits like Joss Stone and Amy Winehouse, Jamie Lidell should fit the bill quite nicely.
It's never good in music for critics to compare artists too much, but if a comparison must be made between Jamie Lidell and anyone, that anyone would likely be the late, great Sam Cooke. Traces of Sam can be heard throughout Jamie's music, most strongly in the track "All I Wanna Do," which musically (but not lyrically) is pretty similar to Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." Otis Redding's raw vocal style can also be heard within Jamie, especially the faux-Gospel-ish "Wait For Me."
Whole Lot of Feel Good
© Warp Records.
Other songs on the album, like "Out Of My System" and the wild, uptempo jam "Hurricane," continue the late '60s/early '70s Soul vibe. If there's a song that completely encapsulates the tone of the album, it's the first single, "Little Bit of Feel Good," which, as the title obvious implies, is a feel-good song. But not just a feel-good song, but a feel-good love song that amazingly manages to be retro and progressive at the same time. The song's arrangement is old school - horns, tambourines, etc. - but the production values are solidly contemporary.
The only real drawback to the album is the in evoking legendary singers of a bygone era, he ultimately sets himself up to being compared to them, and that's a comparison he just can't win. Because although he's got plenty of raw Soul, Jamie's still no Otis Redding or Sam Cooke. What he is though, is a talented artist who has a good knack for making catchy, occasionally funky, feel-good Soul records.