Loose but listenable collection of modern soul sides
Today’s neo-soul music frequently feels racked by an identity crisis.
A new sonic approach has been slow to emerge, and records in the genre often loosely alternate between slicker versions of old Motown shuffles and synthesizer-heavy late-period Stevie Wonderisms. U.K. upstart Jamie Lidell’s latest is trapped squarely in this box, but the quality of his vocal performance generally keeps things from being stifling. With his limber delivery and his ease with open melodies on songs like “Another Day,” Lidell’s songs lack the caloric content of Amy Winehouse or the sexed-up gloss of a Timberlake joint, but they still convey a wrought charm. While Winehouse’s commercial beacon informs Lidell’s approach through much of the album, the better moments come when he seeks other corners of the spectrum, such as on the Al Green-inspired “Green Light.”