Last year, among the Clap Your Hands and Sufjans of the world, the best album released—the one perched atop numerous top-10 lists, including mine—was a collection of raw funk and soul songs sung by a white dude from Cambridgeshire, England. Multiply (Warp Records) introduced Jamie Lidell (formerly of Super_Collider) to the masses as a one-man soul Svengali—either taking part in the most sincere tribute to the genre of soul music ever, or just a funky white James Brown with a curious background in IDM.
But what Lidell isn't (um, black) doesn't really matter, especially when Multiply bumps; it's everything a funk/soul record should be, absolutely sincere in delivery and fearlessness, and maybe just a little bit over the top. Lidell fits the role as frontman perfectly, and while he might literally be about as far from Motown as humanly possible, it doesn't stop the man from delivering a blistering confession of raw-nerve funk/soul tunes that fit just as well on the dance floor as they do on a mix tape. Of course, when you are white and British, there is a fine line you must skirt in your funk music. If it's too dry then your skin color and ethnicity will be your downfall, if it's too over the top, then you're nothing more than Jamiroquai without the funny hat—and for the love of god—no one wants that.
While Lidell still has yet to harness a realized soul frontman personality, I'd suggest he goes cuddly. If anything, he might do well by himself to become a British Al Green, ready to make love by the fire, and perhaps get you some tea afterward. When it all comes down to it, Jamie Lidell is just like Prince, had Prince grown up listening to Aphex Twin and downloaded the entire Stax Records catalog off Napster and onto his laptop.
Jamie Lidell performs at the Doug Fir on Friday April 14.