...for unabashed lovers of real soul music, this album hits the spot - big time.
Katie Blackwell 2004
There's quite a buzz around this one. Last year's two teaser EPs attracted critical acclaim from the likes of Giles Peterson, Jazzanova and Kruder and Dorfmeister. The album only confirms what those in the know suspected; Mr. Fiddler is really something quite special.
Here is a presentation of sophisticated, modern sounds for grown ups. Many artists could list soul, funk, jazz, hip hop and r 'n' b as influences, but few could put such a personal and individual stamp on their sound. There's a definite 70s vibe - think Stevie, Sly and Shuggie- but the music always transcends pastiche. Lenny Kravitz is definitely not in the area.
Detroit born Amp has certainly had time to refine his style. His CV includes 12 years playing keyboards in the P-Funk Allstars, live and studio work with everyone from Primal Scream to Prince and a helping hand in Carl Craig's much praised Detroit Experiment. It's not suprising then, that the album features some top flight collaborations: George Clinton turns up on the title track and other guests include Only Child, Raphael Saadiq, J Dillaand and the enigmatic Moodyman. There's even an appearance, on trumpet, from Amp's son.
This is definitely a proper album, a CD you're happy to listen to from beginning to end, one to wallow and groove about in. That said, there are some stand out moments: "Eye to Eye", which has graced a few dance floors in recent years, still sounds as fresh as ever. "Superficial" offers up a deeply seductive slice of funk, while the plaintive soul of "Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly" closes the album in a suitably ruminative style.
At the centre of the sound is Amp's distinctive voice which, despite its raw edge, always leaves a sweet taste. The lyrics mainly focus on the complexities of love and attraction, though on "Love and War" the conflict in Iraq is addressed. (You suspect Amp won't be voting Republican come the Autumn.)
The music's never frantic, and some may find the more mellow tracks a bit 'lounge'. But, for unabashed lovers of real soul music, this album hits the spot - big time.