Jamie Lidell’s reputation has largely been built on the back of hisSupercollider partnership with Christian Vogel, his well receivedMuddlin’ Gear album for Warp and some spectacular recent live performances,all of which have built Multiply into an eagerly anticipated album.
It doesn’t disappoint, and despite an obvious affinity with the music ofOtis Redding, Stevie Wonder and Prince, retains afiercely individual sound. This is partly due to Lidell’s virtuosity in thestudio, an expanded drum sound adding real depth to the funkier tracks. Theprinciple reason for buying this album, however, is his voice.
From a whisper to a full-throated yell, he also demonstrates remarkablecontrol at times, conveying intense emotions as if it was the easiest thingin the world. The title track, where Redding’s influence is at its keenest,is a case in point, Lidell singing “I’m so tired of repeating myself”before breaking into a smile at the end of the chorus. The searching finaltrack, Game For Fools, is Lidell laid bare, crooning almost helplesslytoward the end.
When he chooses to funk things up the results are astonishing. When ICome Back Around is a superb P-funk stunner, Lidell’s studio drum tracksecuring exhilarating fills and the vocal layers overlapping perfectly -one to wig out to on the dancefloor. Even the extended keyboard solos seemlike a good idea! Meanwhile the blustery funk of Newme is fronted by anevocative sax riff, straight out of Harlem.
The slower tracks work well too. A Little Bit More finds the singerdissecting the end of a relationship over a low, throaty backing vocal andthe sort of bass heard booming from car stereos. What’s The Use? revealshis penchant for a good lyric – after enquiring, “What’s the use offiguring it all out?” he declares, “I’m a walking talking questionmark”.
It’s interesting to compare Jamie Lidell with his British white soulcontemporaries, and revealing to note that nobody seems to be pushing thefunk in quite the same way at the moment. The most obvious comparison isJamiroquai, whose latest album is nearly upon us, but it’s difficultto imagine him funking things up as well as this, hard to see theboundaries being pushed with quite such a compelling urgency. Lidell canachieve all these things – his is a rare talent, demanding to be heard.