Over Jamie Lidell
Justin Timberlake can cut a rug like nobody's business, and Maroon 5 know their Chic inside and out. Yet arguably the funkiest blue-eyed soul man since Daryl Hall lives across the pond. Much like the legendary Arthur Russell and later Matthew Dear, Lidell is a pop singer with a background in esoteric dance music; he and Cristian Vogel, under the name Super Collider, released two albums of quasi-ambient electronica in the late '90s. The Brit approaches soul music more like a producer meticulously constructing sonic collages than a traditional frontman. Although his debut Muddlin Gear was a continuation of his interest in pure sound, Lidell turned into a straight-up crooner for 2005's Multiply. In addition to a host of standard, non-electronic instruments, the album features him making a clutch of sounds -- from the punchy percussion to the falsetto backup singers -- with just his voice (a feat he wowed audiences with when he toured in support of the album). But while that's a novel trick, Lidell clearly understands soul's vast history. He is as well versed in the post-'70s era (Prince, D'Angelo) as he is in the classics of both Northern and Southern soul. Then again, soul is a shadowy quality that lives somewhere beyond knowledge and skill. Some folks have it; some don't. And Lidell certainly does.