Musical chamelon Jamie Lidell’s last album, 2008′s Jim, was a surprising turn away from his techno and electronica past and a move towards throwback ’70s-influenced soul.
Lidell’s since said he wasn’t happy with the album and he made it to satisfy people who had a particular vision of what kind of musician he should be. So he’s used Compass as an opportunity to forget all that and branch off in whatever directions he wants.
Truthfully, the title’s highly ironic, as the album features Lidell wandering through Jim-style soul ("She Needs Me"), techno ("It’s A Kiss") and — bizarrely — Xavier Rudd-y surf-folk ("You See My Light").
While it’s good to see Lidell asserting his artistic vision without interference, Compass ultimately comes across as unfocussed. That said, there’s enough good songs here to outweigh the stinkers, and if Lidell’s going to use this album as a stepping stone to figure out where he wants to go, then it will have served its purpose.