Stone Rollin'Album | Raphael Saadiq By Stewart Mason
Neo-soul loses the polish.
For all the (well-deserved) praise that Raphael Saadiq's The Way I See It garnered in 2008, the Oakland-bred singer-songwriter's follow-up is even better. Stepping away from the well-manicured Motown homages of its predecessors, Stone Rollin' avoids neo-soul's new-wine-in-old-bottles trap by refusing to stick to one particular set of influences. So when Saadiq drops a nod to Sly and the Family Stone's "Dance To The Music" in the slammin' opener "Heart Attack," or closes the dreamy "Just Don't" with a vintage synthesizer solo straight off Stevie Wonder's Innervisions, they come across as respectful nods to his idols rather than studied imitations of same. Rawer, louder and sweatier than The Way I See It, Stone Rollin' brings some much-needed urgency to the party (the title track, a bluesy, harmonica-driven groove in unabashed celebration of big gals, will certainly be the sexiest single of summer 2011), and the repeated use of an old-fashioned Mellotron adds an unexpected psychedelic edge as well. The Way I See It felt like the work of an exceptionally talented student of old-school R&B; Stone Rollin' reveals Raphael Saadiq as a master of the style.