The greatest one-man live show on earth, Jamie Lidell's oddball melding of classic Motown soul, hiccupping glitch-tronica and glitter-spangled Vegas stage shtick made him the toast of festivals and packed subterranean clubs alike, and garnered him both rave reviews and legions of new fans in the process. In light of his newfound success, many wondered if Lidell would continue down this righteous path, or dovetail back into his considerably glitchier past, either revisiting Super_Collider (his collaboration with Cristian Vogel) or shifting himself back into Muddlin Gear.
Headz might hang their heads in disappointment, but soul stirrers will most certainly rejoice, because Jim, Lidell's follow up to Multiply (the only honest-to-God hit record Warp Records has ever released), finds the crooner delving even deeper into the original Motor City sound, with heaping helpings of stone-funk Philly soul thrown in for good measure. Occasionally, as on "Wait for Me" and "Green Light," Lidell's delivery (in terms of diction and timbre) is redolent of Smokey Robinson, while the marching arrangements and loose, live feel evoke Holland and Dozier at their late '60s/early '70s peak. "All I Wanna Do" is the gently lilting torch song he's always threatened to write, and with future clap-along anthem "Little Bit of Feel Good," he's got a real shot at the Top 40 smash he's always dreamed of. Elsewhere, Lidell gets supersonic with "Figured Me Out," a sleek blast of '80s-tinged electro funk that even the Gloved One himself would be proud to call his own, and crashes the stoned soul picnic with the kaleidoscopic "Hurricane," perhaps the world's first punk-rave-soul jam.
While it's not necessarily a colossal stylistic leap forward from Multiply, with Jim, Lidell has undoubtedly created the feel good album that's going to be blaring from speakers all summer long, but it's the album's darker lyrical edges and sumptuous arrangements that will keep it in listeners' hearts long after beach season has ended. If he can keep his wits about him and his live show electric, Lidell just might be the one to benefit most from Amy Winehouse's pioneering of retro-soul as a mainstream commodity, because like he says himself here, "a little bit of feel good goes a long way."
"Little Bit Of Feel Good"