Anybody familiar with Raphael Saadiq’s 2008 album “The Way I See It” will know how that particular album successfully captured the essence of Motown’s peak recordings in it’s sound. So much so, in fact that at times I wondered why I was listening to that rather than one of the many great Marvin or Temptations albums. Well the answer is that it is still a fine album in its own right but I am glad to see with his latest album, Saadiq has developed more his own sound, still heavily influenced by vintage soul and funk but now with his own strut.
Opening with a stone cold groover “Heart Attack”, which sets up the ride perfectly. Heavy, fuzzy guitar, pounding drums, chanking rhythm section, powerful vocal, reverb effects, sirens in the background – this is more in the territory of Sly & The Family Stone. That’s a welcome change. Then track two is a stunning, blissful love anthem with gorgeous strings and a rolling beat. Again I could say “Curtis” here, but its Raphael coming into his own. I love this. Its beautiful, lush. Background chant vocals kick in and this track soars high, high, high. I immediately want to buy a ticket to the show so I can experience this high live.
Third track, the single “Radio’” a classic R&B groover with mean surf guitar, finger snaps and a really cool vocal with a very 60′s vibe. That’s it already, this album is certified classic. Then after the cool sounding “Over You” we get the heavy, Rolling Stones-ish “Stone Rollin’” with wailing blues harmonica, strings and classic Brit R&B groove-meets-basement-soul. This is pretty incredible stuff.
The album has peaked. It couldn’t possibly get any better than the first half? We get the whimsical blues of “Day Dreams”. Who am I kidding, this is still great stuff. Then, “Moving Down The Line” with a sweeping melody and spacey hand-claps behind a dreamy vocal and some gorgeous trumpet. I’m noticing the production and its quite remarkable. Then, the incredible “Just Don’t”, with a thick bass, sitar, tambourine and spacey keys. What is not to love?
How did he manage to sneak this out on a major label? Were the executives on holiday? This stuff just flies in the face of everyone on a major who puts out the crap which made me throw out my radio years ago. Now I don’t care how many Grammy’s an artist has won. It just doesn’t mean a thing to me. What does matter is how it sounds – and this sounds just incredible. Buy this, you need something to pass on to your children.