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Jamiroquai - 2001: A Funk Odyssey
Album number five finds Jamiroquai in transition.  After hinting at a new direction through its last two records, leader Jay Kay has made a final break with the funk basis of the Emergency on Planet Earth and Return of the Space Cowboy LPs for contemporary dance styles.  The switch should quiet critics who viewed them as a glorified 70s tribute band, but Odyssey lacks the charm that characterized early Jamiroquai. 

For this album, two new members make their recording debut,  guitarist Rob Harris and bassist Nick Fyffe. Perhaps it is because of their contributions (Harris co-wrote many of the songs) that only "Black Crow" and "Main Vein" sound like classic Jamiroquai. For much of the album, the use of programmed music takes away a major strength of the band, the tight interplay of the musicians.  

That doesn't mean the album is weak.  "Love Foolosophy" and "You Give Me Something" show JK's understanding of the filtered French sound to great effect.   And first single "Little L" uses a prime Prince-sounding groove to extract Kay's best vocal performance.

But overall there is trouble on the horizon. The sounds are as crisp as anything on the market, but they are also indistinguishable from the work of countless one-man-and-a-computer outfits. And there lies the bigger problem.  With virtually no mention of the other members in the credits and the clear focus on Kay in its marketing, this seems less a group effort than a Jay Kay solo project. Granted, his forceful persona always threatened to overshadow the band but there was a cohesion that let you know it was a group affair.  Now, it seems Kay has decided that he is bigger than Jamiroquai and the music suffers.

Copyright 2001 B.Graff.  All rights reserved.

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Released 2001 on Sony

Selected Tracks:

You Give Me Something
Little L
Black Crow
Love Foolosophy

 

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