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Music Review – Jamie Lidell, Multiply

Submitted by on 10 Jul 2007 – 3:44 PM Comments

The premise seems laughable, if not a bit noxious: a white boy from England making one of the best soul and R&B records of 2006; furthermore, one that rivals the greatness that is Sly and the Family Stone, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding, among others. But it’s true. Honest. Jamie Lidell is a bit of a prodigy. After previous work in the technofunk group Super Collider with Cristian Vogel, Lidell lent his vocals and stage presence to Matthew Herbert’s Big Band project, where he took center stage with the Big Band. But it is on his first solo effort, Multiply, that Lidell truly shines. Taking on the roles of vocalist, songwriter and producer, Lidell cobbled together Multiply after a creative bender in Berlin where he spent a good deal of time with like-minded artists, one being Canadian musician Mocky who co-wrote much of the material.

While the funky opening track “You Got Me Up,” which clocks in ten seconds short of two minutes, sets the tone for the album, it feels more like a precursor to the title track. Musically, “Multiply”sounds like an ode to the late Otis Redding and his signature song, “(Sitting On) The Dock of the Bay.” Part throwback to sixties soul, Multiply is deceptive in that once the thrill of such a back-to-basics approach wanes, the smart production shines through, offering us a refreshingly modernized soul album.

On “When I Come Back Around,” Lidell culls Prince’s “Still Standing” with eighties synths snapping around a snaky bass line and Lidell’s bustling vocal at the forefront. Whereas the backing vocals to “A Little Bit More” find Lidell channeling Bill Withers, he lets his sumptuous falsetto handle the lead vocal. By the time we get to “The City“ part soundtrack to a seventies exploitation film, part Blood, Sweat & Tears on angel dust Lidell has turned our perception of what this album will be completely on its rear, and wonderfully so. Lidell wisely ends the album with “Game for Fools,” if not only to remind us that beneath all of the genre crossing and carefully calculated production, Lidell as soul singer is the real deal who has made one unforgettable soul record.

Bruce Scott