Jamie Lidell's released work has changed somewhat dramatically since I first encountered the electronic bleeps and scratches of his first full album, 'Muddlin Gear'.
His second, 'Multiply', really piqued my interest; here was a clearly accomplished vocalist and musician who had found his niche and a talent for creating endearing, innovative, foot-stompingly danceable music.
With 'Jim', his effortless soaring vocals hit every sweet note available while his astonishingly earthy tone, at its best, is spellbinding. At worst, his voice is a gentle...what am I saying? There is no worst.
Sliding between the impossibly funky with songs such as 'Out of my System', 'Little Bit of Feel Good' and 'Hurricane' and the pant-wettingly seductive in 'All I Wanna Do' and 'Green Light', 'Jim' is an absolute tour-de-force and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Lidell's voice is complemented by driving piano, delicate horns, subtle electronic touches and a fascinating story told with a sensitive lyric, and there is not a weak song in sight. Not since Jeff Buckley's 'Grace' have i given (very nearly) every song on an album a 5-star rating!
I have decided not to focus on the obvious comparisons with other, perhaps more well-known artists, as these have been mentioned aplenty in other reviews around the Web. Suffice to say that, try as my inner demon might, I cannot unfavourably compare the sound of 'Jim' with any soul music I have ever heard. Much has been made of his marriage of futuristic and retro sound, and with good reason, but all that I can say is that no comparisons need be drawn. Otis is smiling.