Jamie Lidell is one of those artists who have the ability to intrigue, inspire and baffle all at the same time. Where some may see him as a creative genius, others might struggle to comprehend what's going on inside that mind of his. I fall firmly in the middle when it comes to his latest self-titled offering, Jamie Lidell, released last month.
Obviously overwhelmingly inspired by the musical styling of Prince and with dashes of Funkadelic and Cameo, the intricately layered electro-funk feel of the album sometimes misses the mark as the message of the tracks is often buried underneath heavy production. Perhaps Lidell wanted to pay tribute to some of the funk and R&B greats of the '80s, or maybe he just wanted to make an album that satisfied him creatively? Either way, the album leaves the listener who has their party shoes on satisfied, while those expecting or seeking more from this talented producer and musician may be left scratching their heads.
At first listen, Lidell's upbeat and festive vibe throughout the album works with drawing the listener into his imaginative mind, such as on "Do Yourself a Faver." But, somewhere between my fourth and sixth listen to the album it dawned on me that this album doesn't really make me feel like I know anything about Lidell or the story he's telling with this album. Maybe that doesn't matter, but to put it in a different way, the album feels like he's over-indulged with all the layers and elements to the tracks, so much so that the emotional meaning and message of the tracks is lost amongst Lidell's fantastic voyage to George Clinton's mothership via Prince's erotic city.
While the theme of the album is undeniably '80s, even in the sense of Lidell amply applying to the production the notion of indulgence that defined the decade, the album definitely has strong points. Standouts include "So Cold," with its dynamic take on love that's gone from warm and fuzzy to more freezing than a winter in Sweden, and opening track "I'm Selfish," as well as "You Naked." This isn't a bad album, it's just an album that lacks light and shade or restraint, which when you're dealing with an artist like Lidell leaves you wanting more. This is an album to get your weekend started, to wind you up, to get you dancing and to let go of all your cares. Don't take yourself or Lidell too seriously while listening to this album. Just hop on for the nostalgic ride he's inviting the listener on, and try your best to fight the urge to compare the tracks to any of those by 'the 80's legends he's taking cues from.