In anticipation of "Compass"

(Yeah, I wanted to sneak a final entry in here, too. Thanks to Alyssa and her readers for being such wonderful hosts.)

Compass, the new album by musical alchemist Jamie Lidell, is being released on Tuesday, May 18th. It’s been interesting to watch Lidell’s progression from fuzzy tech rhythm maker to R&B and rock; he started out as half of techno duo Super_Collider. His first solo album, Multiply, was nearly straight soul and R&B, with a few nods to his tech side. The follow-up, Jim, explored rock and inched into funky synth grooves, reminiscent of early 90’s British soul like Loose Ends and Soul II Soul.

With the ease with which he shifts genres, it’s almost easy to forget that Lidell’s voice is amazing. Whether he’s trying to channel Otis Redding or beatboxing into a vocoder, this man’s got soul. And his voice never sounds out of place with each new sound he explores. He’s a crazy talented musician, but there’s the bonus of being able to hear how much fun he’s having, how much work he’s putting into each track. That’s rare.

Previews of Compass, available on Lidell’s You Tube channel, promise a move toward the voice-sculpting he demonstrates during his live shows. He’s working with a big cast of characters on this album, including Beck, Feist, singer Nikka Costa and legend session drummer James Gadson.

The album’s being released on Monday in the UK, so we Americans have to wait til Tuesday. I’ll be up early to download it from iTunes.