Saturday, August 28, 2010

Writing On The Wall

I have to say this. JIM was a great album, no questions asked. But the newest offering Compass, is at least as good. The words I’m fighting off are “progressive,” or “transitioning,” or “maturing,” because I'm not going to play that game.

What makes Jamie Lidell’s newest album stand alone with confidence is its ability to blur all the lines previously highlighted. The diversity of JIM and Multiply shined bright, both of them creative, but also articulate and honest. He was framing previous decades of influences in all the right places, and the music community started to pay attention the new guy in the neighborhood. Compass lets us know, finally and unashamedly, this is where he belongs.

There are flashpoints that occur during a career where artistic labels become easily accessible. The branding that goes along with presenting ones work to the public, is at the same time, both superficial and necessary. It can be really exciting when “the new thing” arrives, but it’s the same force that declares a need for “a revival” of greatness gone by. The megaphone name-calling does matter, but limited titles in the end are just words, and don’t serve any artist with inspiration. The most successful ones are able to find an identity that they believe in concretely, and brilliantly illuminate the contradictions embedded from the very beginning.

Prince is a real target for comparison, and he comes closest to this on Compass, but he also glances with Eddie Kendricks, Bill Withers, and The Jackson 5. Lidell is just as much himself as he has ever been, and understands that being capable of much more, won’t change what’s already his.

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