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Amp Fiddler - Afro Strut (2007)

Amp Fiddler, Afro Strut (US edition)

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

AMP Fiddler returns to the UK with the US edition of his acclaimed Afro Strut long-player [first released in 2006], featuring five new tracks including his recent collaboration with Corinne Bailey Rae If I Don’t.

That song makes the most of Rae’s woozy, jazzy vocals to create an utterly upbeat ’30s inspired song, complete with tinkling piano loops, sharp stabs of flute and an infectious doo-wop sensibility. It’s a perfect summer track and a great track upon which to win over more fans to the album.

Indeed, it’s a feature of the added material that they contribute to a distinct change in vibe to proceedings, lending it an even more upbeat feel that’s tailor-made to be enjoyed during the warmer weather.

Of the other new additions, Not is a sophisticated, soulful love song that wraps some lovelorn lyrics around some lazy piano chords, a laidback beat and a deeply intoxicating vibe.

It comes in complete contrast to his bluesy version of the classic Hey Joe (a track made famous by Jimi Hendrix), which takes Amp Fiddler back to his Detroit roots in supremely confident fashion. With bass replacing Hendrix’s electrifying guitar licks, and a hammond organ too, it’s a slower, moodier take on a timeless song that’s every bit as worthwhile as its previous incarnations.

Scared, meanwhile, tinkers with a sly beat and a really dusky set of vocals to create a distinctly Motown/James Brown inspired shuffle, and Come See Me rounds things off with a stop-start beat and a cheeky, upbeat vibe to ensure the lasting impression is one of positivity.

It’s a clever re-assembly of an already accomplished album that confirms Amp Fiddler as one of the most stylish performers of the moment.

Of the tracks that originally formed Afro Strut, it’s probably worth reminding people of the standout moments. Former single Right Where You Are is a smooth grooving R’n‘B tinged number that was effortlessly classy in the same way that Mozez work with Zero 7 is.

Ridin’, meanwhile, outdoes Jamiroquai in terms of slickness and dancefloor accessibility, laying down some insistent melodies and a really cool vibe, and there’s more fun to be found on You Could Be Mine, featuring a vocal contribution from Neco Washington, who compliments Amp Fiddler’s style perfectly.

If you thought you knew everything about Afro Strut then think again – it’s not like some re-issues which stick on a bonus track and tempt you to part with your money. Rather, it’s a confident re-imagining that’s worthwhile revisiting for previous fans and newcomers alike.

Download picks: If I Don’t, You Could Be Mine, Hey Joe, Ridin’, Scared

Track listing:

  1. Faith
  2. If I Don’t – Feat. Corinne Bailey Rae
  3. Not
  4. Find My Way / Afro Strut (Interlude)
  5. Hustle
  6. You Could Be Mine – Feat. Neco Washington
  7. Right Where You Are
  8. Hey Joe
  9. Ridin’
  10. Scared / Afro Butt (Interlude)
  11. Heaven – Feat. Stephanie McKay
  12. Come See Me