4 to Watch: Jamie Lidell

Soulful Shapeshifter Number One

Music Features Jamie Lidell
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Hometown: Berlin, Germany
Fun fact: Lidell has joined the ranks of the Scissor Sisters and Ryan Adams as one of Elton John’s favorite new muses, with the veteran pop star lauding the neo-soul vocalist in his Interview magazine column.
Why he’s worth watching: After an auspicious opening stint on Beck’s spring tour, a remixed version of his sophomore album, Multiply, and multiple U.S. TV appearances, Lidell is on the verge of escaping his “hipster-secret” status.
For fans of: Sly & the Family Stone, Al Green, Jamiroquai

As he openly admits in “What’s The Use?,” Jamie Lidell is a musical question mark. (“A walking, talking question mark,” he sings.) After gaining recognition as one of the most gifted producers in experimental British electronica, the 34-year-old studio savant embraced a different direction for his solo career: blue-eyed soul, as seen on last year’s buzz album Multiply, which looks to Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder instead of recycling the eclectic dance music Lidell made in his late-’90s group, Super_Collider.

“I wasn’t so thrilled by the prospect of doing another electronic album, something abstract, something hard to get,” Lidell explains. “[I wanted to] make some songs to put on with your corn ?akes in the morning, something to wake up to.”

Multiply is an alternate-universe soundtrack of U.K.-bred funk (albeit after a long Motown layover). Unlike other contemporary soul searchers Joss Stone and Jamiroquai, there’s a gritty, bluesy bent (and lower register) to Lidell’s soulful, oft-falsetto voice, belying an appreciation for the Southern soul of Otis Redding, alongside obvious Sly Stone and Marvin Gaye in?uences. “There’s always a magic moment for Otis Redding to come into a person’s life, and it de?nitely did in mine,” Lidell recounts. “Music travels. Growing up as a white boy in England, I did a good job of pushing all of that music into my ear.”

Lidell will be touring throughout November before heading back into the studio. Considering his recent past, Lidell’s “musical chameleon” approach is keeping all doors open and everyone guessing.