Review: Jamie Lidell is a wonder on new CD - Stevie Wonder

This cover image released by Jajulin Records shows "Building a Beginning," a release by Jamie Lidell. (Jajulin Records via AP)

Jamie Lidell, "Building A Beginning" (Jajulin Records)

Prepare to slip on a turtleneck or maybe even a Nehru jacket when you give Jamie Lidell's new album a twirl. It's such a blast of smooth, '70s groovy soul that you might spontaneously grow sideburns.

You'll also immediately recognize the influence of an uncredited artist on the British-born artist's sixth studio album "Building A Beginning " — Stevie Wonder.

Whereas in the past Lidell blended soul with futuristic electronica or jazz-inspired improvisation, this time it's all Wonder, all the time. That's not a bad thing, honestly. It's just sometimes freaky to hear a white Brit sound so eerily — even down to the inflections — like the Motown great.

That's nowhere truer than on "Julian," an ode to his baby son that echoes Wonder's own celebration of his daughter's birth in "Isn't She Lovely," right down to the inclusion of baby sounds at the end.

Some of the best tracks include the funky "Nothing's Gonna Change" and the slinky "Walk Right Back." He gets more self-indulgent on "I Stay Inside" and "Motionless."

Lidell, who plays everything from guitar to clarinet and flute, wrote the CD with his wife Lindsey Rome, co-credited for 12 of the 14 tunes. Appropriately, it's an album about the power of love.

But lyrically, "Building a Beginning" suffers from a first-person honesty and anguish that fuels the best soul. Many of the sentiments are vapid, like the title alone of "I Live to Make You Smile."

Maybe, next time, a little less Wonder and bit more wounds?


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