Raphael Saadiq: The Way I See It
Since no idea is original, it's all in the way you freak it. Late last year, Boyz II Men released a respectable Motown-remake album with a lousy title that only could've been worse if they'd added an exclamation point to it (Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA). But Raphael Saadiq sees that tribute and raises them something better. On The Way I See It, rather than merely rehashing actual classics, the crooner, songwriter, producer and bassist does some neat paraphrasing, offering his own slick approximations of the tender tunes that kept Black America bopping and grooving through the '60s, with uncannily enough similarities to merit a DeLorean reference. In his earlier days fronting such vintage-friendly acts as Tony! Toni! Toné! and Lucy Pearl, Saadiq crafted a solid soul foundation, which he builds upon here via retro revisions better suited for finger-snapping than clapping; reminiscing is easy, thanks to jukebox-worthy cuts like "Big Easy" and "100 Yard Dash" ("My heart is pumping but still running in place"). Saadiq's juke joint is all horn stabs, tambourines, Temptations-inspired rhythms, doo-wop pathos and patient pining-after ballads like "Oh Girl," "Callin'" and "Never Give You Up," which sees Stevie Wonder dust off the ol' harmonica. Even while Saadiq pays homage to soul's golden era, his tell-tale tenor brings its own flavor.
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