Omar The Man

Omar The Man
9
It's been 23 years since Omar Lye-Fook set the UK on its head with jazzy single "There's Nothing Like This," kick-starting a career as a maverick classically trained artist with a devoted coterie of music lovers and influential artists firmly in his corner. To accurately weigh his immense talent, it helps to mention that Erykah Badu cites him as a critical inspiration in her artistic emergence and avowed fan Stevie Wonder has written songs for him. Now, a year after receiving an MBE for his services to music, Omar is releasing his seventh album, The Man, and despite a seven-year gap since his last record, Sing (If You Want It), Omar is still in fine form. As always, Omar's production and arrangement skills effortlessly mesh and blur musical boundaries, largely eschewing flavour-of the-month trends for an inimitable sound. While the title track features the funkiest use of a bass clarinet you'll likely ever hear, the samba strut of "Come and Speak to me," the piano-driven infectiousness of "I Love Being with You" and the feathery "When We Touch" effortlessly integrate elements of house and calypso, showcasing Omar's uncommon musical breadth and intricacy. The textured, varied sonic flourishes provide a sumptuous foundation for Omar's malleable voice to articulate the album's lyrical theme of embracing maturity and responsibility, preserving and reaffirming his impressive artistic relevance. (Shanachie)