Album Reviews

Jamie Lidell – Compass

(Warp) UK release date: 17 May 2010

Jamie Lidell - Compass It’s something of a relief to have Jamie Lidell the experimentor back in town. Good though his soul voice is, it was presented in too comfortable a setting on previous album Jim, denying the fact that he is much more of an edgy, ‘shot of adrenalin’ type of guy. So here he is, back to doing what he does best.

After only a minute of Completely Exposed the return to self is confirmed, and though the soulful nuances are still present, the big, booming P-funk growl is back, a wonderful cavern in which he can holler to his heart’s content.

There is still room for soulful jams, none more so than the slow number She Needs Me, brashly proclaiming “she needs me, she wants me, every single day”, then throwing in a cautionary “but I need her too” towards the end of the chorus. The title track is strangely moving, with its massive reverb occasionally brought into focus to reveal a profound and surprisingly reserved vocal from Lidell.

Perhaps inevitably it’s the funk that gets through the most, though, whether it’s the brilliantly lithe bass in I Wanna Be Your Telephone, like Justin Timberlake on the edge, the loose-limbed jam that is The Ring, with piano and bass hanging loose, or the hurried bluster of You Are Waking, a helter skelter run through the city.

There is an impressive guest list here too. Top of the pile is Beck, whose spectre hovers around the edges of this record, the fruits of sessions with Lidell in 2006 coming out to the fore. Also present are Grizzly Bear and Feist, both offering cameos – but such is the strength of Lidell’s musical personality that this record is undeniably his.

Occasionally the feeling comes through that some of the music Lidell channels draws too heavily from his past, with figures such as Prince, Funkadelic and Stevie Wonder showing their faces all too clearly at times. Yet most of the time Lidell knows when to pull back from a derivative sound, his own instincts urging him to explore once again.

Lidell has been through a lot in his personal life since the last album, and it seems that has prompted a rethink on his music – a turn in direction back to the less predictable, more incendiary writing of Multiply and his days with Supercollider. It suits him to be back in that place – and one listen to I Can Love Again, to take an example, confirms he is happy to be back there.

buy Jamie Lidell MP3s or CDs
Spotify Jamie Lidell on Spotify

More on Jamie Lidell
Jamie Lidell – Jamie Lidell
Jamie Lidell – Compass
Jamie Lidell + Yelle @ KOKO, London
Jamie Lidell – Jim
Jamie Lidell – Multiply