Raphael Saadiq – The Way I See It
As part of Tony! Toni! Toné! Raphael Saadiq sought to introduce the world to neo soul long before it became the buzzword of the late 90’s and early 00’s. Building upon this success with the more commercially successful Lucy Pearl and production for acts such as The Roots, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Musiq Soulchild, his solo work has been largely overlooked by the public whilst. This is extremely unfortunate when one considers his latest contribution, The Way I See It.
Structured largely as a throw back or perhaps even a love letter to 1950s and 1960s soul. Whereas Amy Winehouse has rekindled an interest for classic soul and the sound of Motown in it’s hayday, Saadiq understands deeply what this entails through smooth and never overt production combined with artfully constructed lyrics. Two prime examples of this are 100 Yard Dash and Never Give You Up – if you had not heard they were new tracks, it’s impossible not to assume that they’re from the Golden Era. Where others imitate, he emulates the depth of production, construction and love that went into the originals. There are little or no computers or synthesizers used here and the implementation of live musicians give the album a vibrancy long since lost to cold technological developments.
With so many examples of perfectly crafted songs available, it is easier to find those that do not fit. And it is just that, Oh Girl (featuring Jay-Z) and Calling (with it’s spanish influences and doo-wop sound) are far from inferior but simply do not fit fully into the overall vision that he is obviously trying to convey. Calling never truly hits the mark, begging for a hook that would validate it’s inclusion; Oh Girl suffers from Jay-Z’s obvious discomfort as he struggles to both rap and sing to blend with the song but never fully succeeding in either.
Overall, if you long for a simpler time where the music was simpler and less methodical, this is the perfect neo-classical soul album to blend into the fray