Bottom Lounge; Sat 9
Despite three wonderful albums for Warp and a couple of inspired Lollapalooza performances, Jamie Lidell’s voice still surprises and floors us. With thick glasses and a three-day beard, the guy looks like a barista or a Google rep, not a knock-your-socks-off soul singer. This August, the lanky Brit got the short end of the deal at Lolla, going up against the Black Keys and Hot Chip. Painfully overlooked, Lidell nevertheless belted his heart out, backed by an ever-growing band that includes a second percussionist and Paul Shaffer clone on keys.
Once a laptop electronica craftsman, the 37-year-old might now be the real torch-carrier for Stevie Wonder’s progressive soul. A production whiz, Lidell pushes head-swaying, clap-along ’70s funk-pop into the 21st century, and is far closer to the spirit of Innervisions than the smooth palimpsest that is Jamiroquai.
After a couple of immaculate digital records, Lidell roughed up his sound on this year’s underappreciated (it’s a common theme with the guy) Compass. Working with Beck and Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear (whose fingerprints are unmistakable), the New York transplant built tracks from beat-boxing and ramshackle rhythms. The tunes might lack the irresistible sunshine of “Another Day,” but this is Lidell’s most personal album—his crooning layered and looped into one-man dialogues—and truly feels like crawling inside his headspace. It’s maddening that the guy can out-sing any hack from American Idol and yet remains less popular than Paula Abdul’s comeback single. But at least he’s got something legitimate to fuel the ache in his pipes.