Jamie Liddell is a genuine enigma in his own lunchtime; an electronic boffin (hence his record label, the famous Sheffield home of electronica, Warp) who has grown into a singer of classic-styled soul and funk.
From living inside the machine, to emoting like real hot flesh and blood human being, Lidell has found it rather difficult to reconcile both tendencies on his last couple of albums. Understandably so, I may add.
On Compass, he’s just about found a balanced combination of his skill set. Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder still loom large as influences on his singing style, and on the style of the songs themselves, but this time he also uses the electronic gear that’s at his disposal, which means a decent quota of quake-shaking bass, and experiments with texture and timbre.
Oh, and then there are the requisite ‘phoned-in’ contributions from members of acclaimed alt-rock groups like Grizzly Bear and Wilco. Email is still a wonderful thing, despite being granddad technology to today’s sprites.
Lidell started out making albums in the typical Warp way, and when they discovered he could actually sing, he became a bit of a party joke. Hey, electronic geek can sing! Apparently, in performance he is quite astonishing. Of course, there’s nothing about an electronic guy who can sing that the general public would get excited about, but on Compass, Lidell has started to come of age and who knows, by his next set, he just may have evolved into the new true renaissance man. GARY STEEL
Sound = 3 stars
Music = 3 stars