Release Date: May 18, 2010
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
The early reports on Compass trumpeted the fact that Beck was involved (his credit is additional production), but Jamie Lidell is hardly a musician who needs the expertise -- he has a voice that's soulful and spirited like few in contemporary music, and his production skills were knocking out fans and critics before they even knew he could sing. If anything, the magic that Lidell & co. create on Compass is a more varied trip through music-making than on 2008's Jim.
So much for the afterglow. Funk-soul white boy Jamie Lidell’s third super-solid album for Warp, that beloved outpost of weirdballs electronics, demonstrates that the easily digestible Sunday-morning soul he concocted for 2008’s criminally underappreciated Jim was in fact just a detour from his more traditionally raucous soul explosions. Despite collaborations with some quite mainstream folk (Beck co-wrote and co-produced several songs, Feist drops in for some guest vocals, and labelmate Christ Taylor of Grizzly Bear pitches in), Compass is Lidell’s most confidently out-there solo collection, a bracingly skronky, schizophrenic mess of a record that ultimately coheres into something much more than the sum of its parts.
Pitching up on Warp certainly makes people take notice. The electronic label was hardly a bastion of funk and R'n'B, but then Jamie Lidell always had plenty going on to set him apart from the retrogressive soulmen. Yet nothing could stop the sense of general befuddlement that met his arrival. It was splendid moments like 'Multiply' - when the snoopy jam of ‘What’s the Use’ melted into a block-harmonized middle-eight, with added honky steel drums and all sorts more sparkly adornments - which should have commanded your attention.
Jamie Lidell's last album, Jim, lured many new fans with its ultra-smooth retro soul vibes, but long-time listeners wondered if he'd completely turned his back on his left-field techno past. Live shows saw him bouncing back and forth between straight-up Motown and his experimental electronic one-man-band routine, but we hoped he'd figure out a way to bring the two extremes closer together. [rssbreak] On Compass, Lidell has done exactly that.
Neo-soulster does what he does best On his fourth album, Jamie Lidell pays homage to everything from ’60s funk to ’90s R&B, blending pastiche with the glitchy production for which his record label has become known. Compass is as eclectic and bugged-out as his last album, Jim, was subdued, and there are plenty of throwbacks: “Enough’s Enough” is blatant Jackson 5 worship, complete with one-two-threes and bouncing flutes, while “She Needs Me” evokes Boyz II Men with a cascading piano intro and Lidell’s layered vocal swells. The title track, featuring Beck, would have felt at home on Sea Change, but most of his collaborators—including Feist, Gonzalez and Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor—all but vanish in the delirious swirl of the music.
Things have panned out pretty damn well for Jamie Lidell since he jumped feet-first into soul revivalism five years ago. He started his career as one half of DJ duo Supercollider before delivering 2005’s Multiply, an album that started him down the path that led him to collaborating with Beck (America’s favorite Scientologist produced this one) and slowly but surely moving up festival-lineup posters to somewhere around the top third. Now he’s ready to move up a few more spots via his fifth album, Compass, an album that takes the great strides Lidell made on Jim and updates them via his earlier electronic tendencies.
2008 is but a distant memory. For those who arrived to the Jamie Lidell soiree that year via Jim, expect to receive a different set of party favors when approaching Compass, the latest effort by the New York-based beat boxing chameleon. Jamie Lidell reorients the prism that illuminated songs like “Another Day” and “Where’d You Go” on his last album.
It’s not something he’s often credited for but since he started singing on his stuff Jamie Lidell has proved that he knows how to open an album. Multiply kicks off with the quick punch of You Got Me Up then moves onto two of Lidell’s most memorable tracks, namely Multiply and When I Come Back Around. Jim kept up the trend, commencing with the irresistibly sweet Another Day before turning up the tempo with Wait For Me and Out Of My System.
It's been four years since Jamie Lidell transformed from a maker of fidgety laptop music into a deconstructionist soul singer. In that time, he's managed to avoid being lumped in with other soul revivalists thanks in no small part to his template-- a combination of simple, authentic-sounding R&B songcraft peppered with a digital production ethic. So far, it's been an effective act, but as with any predicated partly on the past, it's hard not to feel like it might have a shelf life.
After the perfectly polished soul of 2008's Jim, it appeared that Jamie Lidell's transition from button-pushing R&B man to soulful big-band leader was complete. This time, with the help of a few friends (Feist, Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, Gonzales, Pat Sansone of Wilco, and Beck), Lidell is once again roughing up the expected formula. However, both unapologetically sex-drenched, and featuring the occasional bout of weirdness not seen since Raw Digits, his 2002 side-project with Super_Collider, Compass occasionally drifts too far, its coordinates everywhere at once.
One of the things about Jamie Lidell – that people have yet to fully understand – is that the English-born singer has one of the best voices in the music industry. He’s fashioned a strong sense for the soul leanings of his music, as well as the influences he shares from the worlds of jazz, hip-hop, funk, R&B, pop and more; it’s made him a fascinating musician and one that very honestly, is peaking at just the right time. After taking some time off to tour and to get even more into his talents as a singer and musician, Lidell is a force to be reckoned with in every possible way.
An album that proves just how inventive Lidell can be. Wendy Roby 2010 Jamie Lidell’s third album for Warp is not something you can listen to sitting down. It’s a mutating and thoroughly amiable record that uses funk and soul merely as a jumping-off point, before fidgeting off elsewhere. So let’s dismiss those “blue-eyed soul boy” clichés to the back of the lazy drawer.
‘Treme’ An astonishing proportion of the music in this new David Simon television series, broadcast Sunday nights on HBO, was recorded live on location in New Orleans. Five episodes in, that amounts to real performances in bars and on the streets, by local musicians ranging from the pianist Tom McDermott to John Boutté, who also sings the show’s theme. More than any particulars of character or plot, it’s the stubborn persistence of New Orleans music — as communal ritual, as cultural currency, as a means of modest income or immodest exhibition — that forms the backbone of “Treme,” set in the months after Hurricane Katrina.