Jamie Lidell – Compass review

Jamie Lidell – Compass

review written by Terri-Ann Thomas

If it takes going on an emotional rollercoaster to produce material like this, then it definitely makes a ride on that rollercoaster more desirable.

Jamie Lidell has released great albums like, Multiply and JIM throughout his career and what sets his new album, Compass apart from the rest is that he is now comfortable with his genre-exploration.

He knows exactly where he’s going with this album [hence the name, Compass] and he’s taking us along with him, all the while evoking various emotions every step of the way.

On this journey, we are accompanied by some of music’s most talented like, Beck, Feist, Nikki Costa, Chilly Gonzales, Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear and Pat Sansone of Wilco. They all lend pieces of their art to this album, to make it some of Lidell’s best work yet.

It’s all about diversity this time around (no matter how confused some may be about who he is as an artist) because to him, he is, “the voice of many souls.”
So what does the voice of many souls sound like?

Picture yourself flipping through all of the stations on your radio, the songs you hear range from soul, R&B, funk, blues and rock. The only difference with Compass is that all of those stations you’re flipping through are all on one album.

Compass opens up with, “Completely Exposed,” (soulful with a dash of funk) and wins as the introductory track because it explains the entire album. He’s ready to open up and be completely exposed,“ Please pull me out from under here, I’ve been down too long. I don’t wanna be closed but opening up has left me completely exposed.”

The very soulful, bluesy, R&B feel of, “She Needs Me,” (with perfect accompanied instruments by Chilly Gonzales, Brian Lebarton, Chris Bear, Dan Rothchild, James Gadson, Chris Taylor and Bryden Baird) place Jamie Lidell on stage with the Ray Charles’ and James Browns of the music industry (aah’s and ooh’s present). As he expresses his love, “She needs me, she wants me and I must confess, I need her too,” you can’t help but replay the track a few times before listening on (Hey James, Motown called, they want to see you in their office).

When you’re good and ready to change stations, James Lidell’s “feel good” music mode taps in (the kind of music that makes you jump out of your seat before even realizing you can’t dance), with, “Enough’s Enough,” (an old school, disco vibe). In case you’re wondering at this point if it’s a routine by Jackson Five (or The Temptations), no it’s still Lidell. Accompanied with backing vocals by Leslie Fiest and Nikka Costa, the track takes us back to, “A Little Bit Of Feel Good, from Lidell’s album, JIM and that’s exactly how it makes us feel.

After you’ve done enough embarrassing dances in your imaginary soul train line, you can rejoin the line and continue with, “I Wanna Be Your Telephone.” If you’re too busy grooving to the drums and guitars to notice, the song is about Lidell’s plea to be as close to a female as her phone; “I wanna be in your pocket. If you ever drop me in a puddle, I know you’d treat me so kind.” Lidell definitely dives in head first with this record, channeling Prince and loving every minute of it, it’s no wonder he warned us (in the beginning) of his nakedness.

Now that I’m sure you’ve worn yourself out in that line (consisting of just you, and maybe some friends), the station switches to some good old rock. “Big Drift,” and “You Are Waking,” is where the pace of the album changes. Lidell sends rock lovers on a field day in, “You Are Waking,” with the aggressiveness of the drums and Lidell’s voice (it’s not quite Rob Zombie, but rock nonetheless.) Lidell experimented and found the results he was looking for. Who says you can’t have the best of all worlds on an album? At this point, you are waiting for an all pop and country station to kick in.

Your station surfing comes to an end (with far more soulful, groovy, funky songs in between) with “You See My Light,” (a beautiful ballad that almost makes you forget there’s anything else involved besides Lidell’s vocals). The raw emotion from just the lyrics, “You see so much in me when I see nothing left at all,” is so relatable. He ends with the line, “And in this moment I truly understand, how much I love you.”

It’s hard to not think this song was last so you wouldn’t stop listening (or flipping through stations) and continue replaying, if not the entire album, then this record. Bravo Jamie Lidell, bravo.

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