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Amp Fiddler - Afro Strut

Amp Fiddler, Afro Strut

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

AMP Fiddler first made his name with the immensely cool debut solo album Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly back in 2004.

Now he returns with the similarly hip Afro Strut, a smooth collection of tracks that reference many of the great contemporary black music movements, from jazz, doo-wop and Afrobeat to hip-hop.

Complimented by Joseph’s silky smooth vocals, the album is a consistently funky affair that capably demonstrates the depth of Amp Fiddler’s talents – no matter which genre he is tackling.

Former single Right Where You Are was a smooth grooving R’n’B tinged number that was effortlessly classy in the same way that Mozez work with Zero 7 is.

But it in no way marks the general sound of what to expect. Immediately preceding it, for example, is the feel-good foot shuffler that is If I Don’t, a funky blend of doo-wop and soul that blends jazzy trumpets with a liberal sprinkling of piano and soul.

Opening track, Faith, is different again, courtesy of its distinct stabs of bass and Motown-flavoured shuffle. Think of some of the classic shuffles of the 70s and you’re cruising in the right kind of neighbourhood.

Afrobeat combines with reggae for the celebration of love that is I Need You, which thrives on the layered mix of Amp’s vocals, gospel backing singers and, late on, some fast-talking dancehall/reggae.

While title track Afro Strut features veteran Afro-funk pioneer Tony Allen, who recorded his parts in Paris. The track appears as a series of linking fragments, but somehow works better than that sounds.

Whereas debut album Ghetto Fly was more of a cult classic that lay rooted firmly in Amp’s underground roots, Afro Strut feels more eclectic, radio-friendly and ambitious.

In terms of song structure, it’s less jam-based and self-indulgent and more tighter, employing more traditional song structures to lend things an even wider mainstream appeal.

The lyrics, too, also flit between the personal and the political, making some very salient points about both – while also being romantic when they want to, and straight to the point at other times.

Joseph ‘Amp’ Fiddler has always been a name that’s synonymous with a certain cool – with Afro Strut that hipness is only set to grow. With its mixture of styles, the album serves as a welcome enhancer of any variety of moods.

Track listing:

  1. Faith
  2. If I Don’t
  3. Right Where You Are
  4. Find My Way
  5. Empower
  6. Afro Strut
  7. I Need You
  8. You Could Be Mine
  9. Heaven
  10. Afro Butt
  11. Seven Mile
  12. Funky Monday
  13. Ridin’
  14. Hustle
  15. Dope