Thursday, 5 February 2009

Amp Fiddler - Afro Strut - Pias

Joe Amp Fiddler makes real modern soul music – not the simplistic, retro-sounding bouncy castle stuff often labelled modern soul. Yes, he’s an acquired taste but his underground appeal widened with the release of the original ‘Afro Strut’ LP earlier this year. Well, a re-recording of one of that album’s cuts – ‘If I Don’t’ – featuring Corrine Bailey Rae - became a bit of chart rider on the back of being labelled Radio 2’s single of the week, so the Pias label people have quickly re-packaged the album , added some new stuff and re—issued it as the “US Edition”. Those of you who have the original LP will probably love it for its woozy, wispy flavour typified by the Raphael Saadiq-produced ‘Faith’. I’m pleased to report that for this re-print ’Faith’s still in there and its quirky quality is matched by a number of the new brand-new cuts – notably ‘Not’. That’s one’s is the personification of laconic, and those of you who said you got off on Maxwell should listen in. As good is the duet with Stephanie McKay that is ‘Heaven’. Both are inherently more soulful than the LP’s selling point – the Corrine Rae collaboration. ‘If I Don’t’, of course, is a quirky jazz-age pastiche and good enough but it relies too heavily on that gimmick. The other big pulling point here is a version of ‘Hey Joe’. There’s Hendrix-rivalling rock guitar and a soulful, simple delivery that recalls the Chester Powers original. As I’ve said up top, come to this album expecting real modern soul from an artist who wants to move the genre forwards. If you have the original then you’re going to have make up your own mid about the new stuff – but ‘Not’ is good.

Bill Buckley

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