At times on his new album, Jim, Jamie Lidell sounds startlingly similar to 1970s-era Stevie Wonder. Unfortunately that comment is double-edged. While any comparison to one of the all time greats must surely be savored, it is a reminder that what you are doing has been done before, and that someone did it better.
On Jim, Lidell brings his blue-eyed soul back to the 70s with bouncy danceable beats, flourishes of piano and congas, on-time harmony singers, and enough “woo-woos” and “yeah-yeahs” that you just can’t resist singing. Think a more soulful-fun Jamiroquai (and without those annoying moving sidewalks) and you got it. Lidell does his best to channel his inner funk with an energetic approach; you can practically hear him dancing in the studio as he sings. The opening “Another Day” and “Little Bit of Feel Good” are especially catchy and will undoubtedly cause some ass-shaking to erupt.
But that brings us back to that double-edged compliment. Jim can be fun, soulful and drops grooves so deep that you think you may fall into one, but it does not sound new or fresh. I could grab Talking Book, Songs in the Key of Life or Innervisions off my shelf and hear some original 70s soul-funk. At times fun and catchy, Jim does not last.
Jim is out now on Warp Records.