The hot sound in music today is “1960s Motown”…? Sounds almost like an oxymoron. But turn on the radio and you hear it clearly in the music of today’s young artists. And you’ll also hear it on Raphael Saadiq’s fourth solo effort The Way I See It. The former member of the R&B groups Tony! Toni! Toné! and Lucy Pearl is definitely not a stranger to that sound. Anyone who is a fan of this singer/songwriter will give you a long list of influences heard in his body of work: Curtis Mayfield, The Temptations, etc. And to have the opportunity to pay homage to these legends on a single album: priceless. On “Love That Girl” and “Sure Hope You Mean It,” it is clear that Saadiq has great love and respect for the Motown sound. With its lo-fi quality, horn sections, tambourines, and rhythmic electric bass, The Way I See It gives you the feeling that you are listening to an old 45 rather than a CD (or mp3 file). Even Saadiq’s songwriting on this album is a tribute to another key aspect of Motown’s legacy, “The KISS Principle” (Keep It Short & Simple), especially since most of the songs are no longer than four minutes. On “Big Easy (featuring The Infamous Young Spodie & The Rebirth Brass Band),” Saadiq explores the harsh reality of Hurricane Katrina, while “Just One Kiss (featuring Joss Stone)” is a wonderfully modern tribute to the classic Motown duo Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Raphael Saadiq has produced for many different artists (including Joss Stone and D’Angelo) and for this eclectic artist to forgo variety and focus on one signature sound, The Way I See It will be appreciated by young and old fans alike.
Shannon J. Effinger