A Funk Odyssey

Nov 21, 2001 at 12:00 am

Long labeled a Stevie Wonder imitator, Jason Kay’s white-skin soul-funk singing and stage kinesics got Jamiroquai ridiculed as some sort of ’90s dance version of the Average White Band. But eight years (“Twenty Zero One”) into the ’70s-’90s bit-picking of black psychedelia, he has put the Wonder thing to the side and embraced the groove. Comfortable funk recliners for the constant body-verbing, the Space Cowboy keeps moving the world with A Funk Odyssey. The title describes the wholeness of the group’s Fatback Band likeness and leveled-out, mini P-Funk, hip-club galaxy sound. “Little L” is the survey of all that is expected from the group: fun(k), disco bump and Kay’s fringed spunk.

Not without Jamiroquai’s pop philosophies comes the love of the second single, “You Give Me Something.” A completely boring compliment to a sweetheart whose sentiment is more promising in the tried-and-true pace of “Love Foolosophy.”

Given Kay’s ego presence, it’s not surprising that the best romantic mood is found within a song about himself. “Corner of the Earth” a Bolero Brazilian breathable gauze, takes the heart best. Hot sheetrock circa The Isleys’ “Fight The Power” and Bootsey’s star shades weigh down “Stop Don’t Panic.” Earth Wind and Fire undertones sway “Black Crow.” And Sly Stone’s Rose emulator crashes the Isaac Hayes-driven party called “Main Vein.” Yes, some folk are still suspicious of the band. And others, like me, are happy for the funk and waiting for another dope dance mix.

E-mail Tamara Harris at [email protected].