Having seen Omar guesting with Mario Biondi at the Albert Hall for tracks from Sun, it was evident that "the Man" was back on top form. Further airplay on Jazz FM has confirmed the quality of the album and it has been one of the albums of Summer 2013.
Omar often turns up at Jazz festivals and seems to hang out with Jazz musicians, although the music he creates is more often characterised as Soul or R & B. For me, the most interesting tracks on this album are those where he collaborates with other musicians - like on the title track where he brings in the well-known UK Sax player Ben Castle, a bandleader in his own right.
There are also collaborations with two of the best UK bass guitarists around, in Stuart Zender (ex-Jamiroquai) and Pino Palladino(...that bass line for Paul Young on "Wherever I lay my hat"). "High Heels" features the Hidden Jazz Quartet and horn players grace most tracks - but it's not really Jazz territory, except in the extended vocabulary of chords that Omar uses.
The album is definitely focused on tight song structures - all originals - and nearly all by Omar himself with the odd co-credit. All are groove-based and there are nods to his parents' Jamaican origins - like on "Bully" - but most fit into genres that are usually described as 'urban'. There is a great sense of integrity in the music and lyrics - Omar isn't courting fame - he is producing the music he likes and collaborating with the musicians he likes - he is his own man. Maybe why the album title is so apt?
This is music that is diverse, but unique maybe to this time and place - the multicultural musical landscape of London and places like the Jazz Cafe. There are maybe links to Incognito and the Brand New Heavies, but Omar is distinctive and darker in his lyrical content and deeper into Jazz influences. Certainly worth a listen.
Five long years since Omar's acclaimed 'Sing', we're finally blessed with 'The Man' his 7th (!) blend of soul, funk, latin and above all very British street sounds. I've followed said Man since his first releases with Kongo, Talkin Loud and the subsequent circus of labels and managers.
Whilst he's seemingly been mislead and occasionally mis-directed by some of these folks with a few of the past single releases and occasional forays into weaker covers (Golden Brown, Be Thankful) and 'pop' sounds (especially on the last album), Omar typically maintains a distinctive, timeless sound.
What makes this album so glorious is that his underlying musical integrity is demonstrated from start to finish. 'The Man' is a much stronger effort than many of his previous works because, like 'Best by Far' there is a refreshing lack of trying to be 'current' (which also means, thankfully, no half-arsed raps).
Sounding a little like a revamped 'This is not a love song', 'Simplify' kicks us off on the right trumpety note. The strolling, oboe lined, title track follows, already an Omar classic. 'Come on Speak to me' gives us the first latin-laced track with a nice vocal arrangement. 'I can listen' has a 60s soul taste; nice track which feels a little bit of a filler track. In contrast is the skip-stomp of 'Bully' which injects slick scratching and some high-pitch warbling! A gentle collaboration with legendary Caron Wheeler takes the tempo down (I don't think he'll ever better his duet with Carleen Anderson but this is still for the lovers). We move uptempo with the F**** War, make love - classy funk with solid bass, keys and trumpet that Omar and his pals do best. Omar's musical intelligence is always impressive and best demonstrated with the diversity of percussive styles and classical instruments (praise to the return of the oboe!).
The highlight for me so far is 'High Heels' (collaboration with Hidden Jazz Quartet) which I understand wasn't originally intended for the album. Good thing his wife persuaded him otherwise. Omar's been involved in loads of collaborations over the years and this is one of my favourites. Quality jazz-breaks and vocals. And just when you think the album might dip, 'I love being with you' follows up with Omar's trademark funk-key-stab. An absolute gem for the summer ( and with a little remix could be a scorcher).
The inevitable reworking of "There's nothing like this' is sweet and respectful and matures the original for old and new fans alike. Latin makes a reappearance with 'Eeni Meeni', nice vibe but I really can't dig the chorus. Sorry. No matter how beautifully you sing 'Myni Mo' it still sounds ridiculous. 'When you touch...' feels similar to 'Dancing' Omar's collaboration with Zed Bias. It's fine but it's not 'Dancing'. Lastly, we have 'Ordinary Day', an ode to his family. A breezy end to a sun-soaked set of classic soul.
Let's be honest, unless you want to hear the sound of 'now' or another US pop-tart you won't find a better, genuine soul/funk/jazz album this Summer. Get yourself a partner, a barbecue and get your groove on. Thanks Omar, man.
everytime omar puts out music this guy never fails to deliver!!!!! its a melting pot of all things with a soul/funk/jazz/ flava!!! and with some other influences thrown into tha mix with the emphasis high on quality. he is very much a leader and not a follower with his own vibe, also like Incognito he is a pioneer and a pure genius!!!!! ESSENTIAL .
This is a long awaited Album and its well worth the wait, Omar is in my opinion the most talented artist that this country has, this man has never conformed to fit in with the "latest trend" thus his sound is absolutely unique to him, the whole album is a delicious confection of sounds & rhythm from Jazz through to Latin vibes ( e.g" Ordinary Day " written for his daughters ) to a reggae beat ( e.g "Bully") & so much more, he also has some fabulous artists such as Pino Palladino who plays on the re-worked new version on what has become Omar's signature tune " There's Nothing like This" which is just hauntingly beautiful! This album is a must for all die-hard fans of Omar & all lovers of great Music, it is just amazing & to date is his best album you can feel the love that went into the making of it it also proves that Omar IS " The Man"
Have been a big fan of Omar for years simply because he always turns out great songs, great music, other than that I just love his voice. Up there with the best, easily! To tell you the truth I hadn't thought much about him for a while, easily done as his re-released last album 'Sing' was 3 years ago now. So it wasn't until I bought a 2010 vinyl EP by 'Maddslinky', AKA Zed Bias, with Omar as vocalist, check it! Anyway, that led me back to see what this guy was up to. Although 'The Man' features numerous guest artists, this is still classic Omar. An Excellent album, a must buy.
A very good album of his. Some really good tracks. A few covers towards the end, but it's Omar, I'm not going to give him any thing less than 5 stars!!! If you don't know Omar he is an incredible mix of upbeat soul/r'n'b and funk with some classical influences due to his classical training. Mixed with his totally unique style and the best voice I've heard he's just incredible!
One of the leading lights in British Soul Music, Omar's class shines through once again in his most recent albumn "The Man". It has been worth the wait as there isn't a weak song on this albumn. Some of the production techniques and instruments used are recognisable from previous albumns, but there are new sounds and collaborations which make the albumn fresh and interesting both for die-hard and new fans. From funky beats to well thought out melodies, it is sure to get you moving and singing along. This albumn is diverse but maintains ist quality all the way through, unlike a lot of more commercial albumns contining "filler songs". This guy is underrated and deserves more air-time on the radio and TV. His lyrics, voice and musical ability is far greater than most British or worldwide stars of the modern era. If you get the chance go to see him live too...he doesn't disappoint.