Amp Fiddler

Waltz of a Ghetto Fly (Genuine/PIAS America)

Detroit musician Amp Fiddler's Waltz of a Ghetto Fly sounds like a homage to Sly and the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On without the drowsy cocaine-induced lows, or D'Angelo's Voodoo without the love affair as blood-soaked ritual motif. In other words, it's all about impassioned extemporizing, R&B as an end unto itself, and achieving ecstasy through long jams with little to distinguish them save for a strong hook and a chorus. The net effect sounds polished and purposeful, like a commuter train running into infinity.

Thanks to stints working with everyone from Jay Dee to Prince, Amp Fiddler's performances are topnotch, and soul aficionados will probably get off on the funky arrangements that he unspools from his keyboard. Still one wonders how fly he would be if he tethered his numbers to great songs instead of high-end postproduction techniques. "Eye to Eye," the lone standout on a solid if unspectacular disc, provides a clue. "I can talk a gang o' shit to you but/Everybody needs someone/To be real, yea," he drops over a blurry melody that whines like a theremin. Granted the lyrics are no Stevie Wonder, but the verse-chorus structure he creates here is a compelling one that draws attention to the expert musicianship; elsewhere the equation is flipped, with somewhat frustrating results.

 
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