Singer-musician Joseph "Amp" Fiddler has been rattling around the music industry for so long, it's rather surprising that this is his first full-length CD. Since the early 1990s, he's played with such artists as Prince, George Clinton, Brand New Heavies, and Ramsey Lewis, and Fiddler's abundant soul, jazz, and funk influences blossom on this deeply satisfying album. There's an easy summertime groove on such songs as "I Believe in You" and "Dreamin'," co-written with Raphael Saadiq, who also plays keyboards. The songs have an old soul vibe, but this isn't a retro recording. Fiddler nods to the past, but is always pushing forward to create his own sound. "Superficial" is a standout, a jazzy soul workout with Fiddler growling and drawling out syllables Sly Stone-style. He changes things up with the mostly instrumental "Possibilities," a duet with his bass-playing brother Thomas "Bubz" Fiddler, who has also played with Clinton's P-Funk All-Stars (he plays on several other tracks here as well). Just when it seems like the album will concern itself only with matters of the heart, "Love & War" arrives as a pointedly political track with Fiddler singing, "I ain't down with going to war." That's one way Fiddler flips the scripts and keeps the CD unpredictable. Another is the lovely "If You Can't Get Me Off Your Mind," which begins simply enough, until sweeping backup vocals elevate the song into something deliciously transcendent. And it's not the only time this album achieves such highs.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.